Although Boston rallied numerous times, it was the Capitals who took charge in the early going. Semin scored the first power-play goal of the series to give the Capitals a 1-0 lead 16 minutes into the opening frame. Circling in the high slot, Semin turned and released a wrist shot that found its way through traffic to beat a screened Thomas between the pads.
Tempers flared at the end of the first period, resulting in penalties to Backstrom and Milan Lucic and two minutes of four-on-four play at the start of the second that brought an offensive outburst.
That stretch included Peverley’s shot that Holtby couldn’t handle, 35 seconds into the middle frame, to even the score at 1. Washington regained the lead on the ensuing shift, though, when Ovechkin ripped a shot from the right faceoff circle that seemed to catch Thomas off guard to make it 2-1 just 13 seconds after Peverley’s tally.
Bruins fourth-liner Daniel Paille made it 2-2 at 9:38 of the second when he was left unattended in front and managed to gather a rebound and fire it into an open cage.
As the two teams continued to press, animosity grew. Lucic and Laich exchanged words and shoves when lined up for a faceoff until the Bruins forward knocked the latter over. Both players received minor penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct.
“I mean, sometimes that comes in the first game, and sometimes it takes incidents and moments as the series moves on to develop it,” Laich said of the chippiness. “You know, there was more stuff, extracurricular stuff after the whistles. We kind of don’t want to get caught up in that.”
At the start of the third the Bruins took their first lead of the game and the series on a goal by veteran winger Brian Rolston. With the Capitals scrambling in front of their net Boston players flung the puck at the net from any and all angles, looking for rebounds or helter-skelter plays. Rolston managed to poke the loose puck between Holtby’s pads for a 3-2 Bruins lead just 62 seconds into the frame.
Laich answered to make it 3-3 with 14 minutes gone in the third when he showed incredible patience to beat Thomas cleanly one-on-one. Washington wouldn’t manage to find a way to regain the lead, though.
“It’s tough, but again, it’s nothing to lose,” Ovechkin said. “You know, series not ended, and somebody have to win, somebody have to lose. . . . I think we play great today but we make a couple mistakes and it costs us a goal. That was great battle, but we lost.”