The first Game 7 of John Carlson’s NHL career didn’t end up so well for the Capitals.
On Wednesday, he’ll get a second crack at one when the Bruins host the Caps in a first round, winner-takes-all contest at TD Garden.
“Game 7 is a Game 7, no matter how you look at it,” the 22-year-old defenseman said Monday at KCI, where the Capitals' regulars had the day off from practice. “I don’t think you need to play in a hundred to be the best in a Game 7. Whatever game it is, we’re playing to win.”
Carlson has been half of the Capitals’ best defensive tandem in the series against Boston. Skating alongside Karl Alzner, the team's top shutdown has been on the ice for only three of the Bruins’ 14 goals through six tightly contested games.
Carlson and Alzner were on the ice for one goal in Games 1-5, but the pairing was on for two in Sunday’s Game 6 – Rich Peverley’s first period strike and Andrew Ference’s go-ahead tally in the third period.
“We gave them too many chances,” Carlson said, referring to all the Capitals. “When you give a team too many chances they end up in the back of your net sometimes.”
“We showed a lot of courage out there,” he added. “We came back three times. That’s huge for our team. We know we can come back on these guys and we know that we’re better off in the lead. So it’s one thing we have to work on for next game.”
In his only previous Game 7 experience, Carlson and the Capitals lost, 2-1, to the Canadiens, completing a historic collapse for the Presidents’ Trophy winners in April 2010. (Carlson and Alzner were paired together for much of that game, too, and Carlson finished with a minus-1 rating while skating 19:03.)
Today, though, he sounded confident that he and his teammates will avoid a similar letdown on Causeway Street.
Including the regular season, the Capitals are 4-1 this season at TD Garden.
“We have to go there and do our job,” Carlson said. “We’ve won there in the regular season and the postseason. We’re a good team. We know what we have to do."
More on the Capitals:
— Persistence pays off for Tyler Seguin
— Bruins edge Caps in overtime to force Game 7
— Caps-Bruins playoff shot chart
— Hamilton: Caps, Bruins have Game 7 histories
— Feinstein: Bruins know how lucky they got