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Capitals let Brad Marchand and the Bruins get even in Game 2

The Bruins celebrate Brad Marchand’s game-winning goal in overtime of Game 2 as the Capitals’ Nic Dowd skates off the ice Monday at Capital One Arena. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

Brad Marchand’s shot blew past Craig Anderson only 39 seconds into overtime, rippling the net and changing the complexion of a series. The Boston Bruins’ bench emptied, and their players formed a mob on the ice at Capital One Arena after their 4-3 win over the Washington Capitals knotted this best-of-seven first-round playoff matchup at a game apiece.

The Capitals, who rode the 39-year-old Anderson for 44 saves, skated off, their heads down, the series shifting to Boston for Game 3 on Wednesday.

“We’ll be there with a response,” Capitals Coach Peter Laviolette said. “Our guys have always responded in-game and through the course of the season, so we’ll be ready to play.”

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Marchand’s one-timer from the right faceoff circle — coming after a turnover by Capitals defenseman Brenden Dillon — rendered Anderson’s strong showing moot. The goal came before either team settled in for the extra period.

Anderson, who was not expected to be the Capitals’ No. 1 netminder at any point this season, let alone in the playoffs, allowed goals on two of the first five shots he faced. Then he spent nearly 50 minutes forming a wall in the crease before Bruins forward Taylor Hall tied the score at 3 with 2:49 left in regulation.

Garnet Hathaway, the Capitals’ fourth-line winger known for his grit and physicality, tallied his second goal of the night at 7:04 of the third period to give the Capitals a 3-2 lead before Hall’s equalizer following a scrum in front of Anderson.

“They’re a good offensive team,” Laviolette said. “We’re at our best when we’re attacking as well. We ended up picking up Game 1. They catch it late in the game and win it in overtime, and they get Game 2. So off to Boston we go, and I wouldn’t expect anything different the next couple of games.”

In addition to losing Game 2, the Capitals also may have lost center Lars Eller. He left midway through the second period with a lower-body injury and did not return, playing just under 10 minutes. Eller flexed his left leg and gingerly skated to the bench after a rush at the end of his last shift, and Laviolette did not have an update on the severity of his injury after the game.

After Eller went off, and with T.J. Oshie already playing out of position in place of Evgeny Kuznetsov, who remained out despite coming off the NHL’s covid-19 list Sunday, Washington was down to two true centers for the rest of the game: Nicklas Backstrom and Nic Dowd.

“When Lars went out it threw a wrinkle, and I thought we adjusted, kept battling,” Laviolette said. “We had the lead [with] just under three minutes [left in regulation] and couldn’t get it done, so guys kept fighting for it and kept battling.”

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Eller’s injury was just the Capitals’ latest concern. Rookie goaltender Vitek Vanecek remained out and is still listed as day-to-day after suffering a lower-body injury in the first period of Washington’s 3-2 overtime win Saturday in Game 1.

As a result, Anderson made his first playoff start since 2017 with Ottawa after making only four appearances in the regular season, including two starts. Ilya Samsonov, the Capitals’ No. 1 goaltender heading into the season, also was unavailable as he returns from his stint on the covid-19 list, so Pheonix Copley, who played only in the American Hockey League this season, served as Anderson’s backup.

“I thought Craig made some big saves in there,” Laviolette said. “It was a game that went back and forth with a lot of chances and a lot of looks, and I thought Craig did a good job.”

Both teams went back and forth during an action-packed first period that included 36 shots on goal, 32 hits, five penalties and two goals for each team.

“I thought we had a lot of momentum,” Hathaway said. “I thought we were controlling the play, and that’s what we wanted to do. We know they were going to come out harder than they did the night before, and I thought we fought really hard tonight.”

The Capitals were engaged from the jump, getting multiple high-danger chances in the opening minutes. Zdeno Chara delivered a flattening blow to Boston’s Sean Kuraly in the Capitals’ offensive zone, Tom Wilson checked Curtis Lazar into the Bruins’ bench, and the physicality only increased from there.

Even though Washington controlled the play early, Boston’s Jake DeBrusk scored first at 5:05 when Anderson ended up out of position after being clipped by a teammate and couldn’t find his way back into the crease. Oshie tied the score at 1 with a deflection of Alex Ovechkin’s shot from the left circle on the power play at 6:31.

The Bruins went back ahead on just their fifth shot when Patrice Bergeron beat Anderson with a wrist shot from the high slot at 9:21. Hathaway scored his first goal at 16:42, deflecting Dmitry Orlov’s point shot to tie the score at 2.

The second period turned into a penalty-filled affair, with the referees dishing out a whopping seven minors. There were three matching-minor calls, washing out all but one true power play for the Bruins in the scoreless period.

The Capitals finally received two prime power-play opportunities to open the third but could not convert. Hathaway put Washington ahead shortly after the second man-advantage ended, but the Bruins managed to pull even in the game and, eventually, the series.

“I thought we played well, but we didn’t play well enough,” Hathaway said.