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CAPITALS: Overtime Goal By Bruins’ Tyler Seguin Forces Decisive Game 7
WASHINGTON – Braden Holtby waited and waited and waited. Now he’ll have to wait until Wednesday.
Right wing Tyler Seguin beat the Washington Capitals’ goaltender with a delayed wrist shot 3:17 into overtime, giving the Bruins a 4-3 victory Sunday at Verizon Center and forcing a decisive final game in Boston in the teams’ best-of-seven first-round Stanley Cup playoff series.
It’s nothing new for the Bruins, who went to seven games in three of four series – including the Stanley Cup Finals – en route to winning it all a year ago. The Capitals don’t have that experience to draw upon, but they did win two of the three games played in Boston thus far in the series and both games during the regular season.
“They’re not going to go down easy, obviously,” defenseman Karl Alzner said. “It was going to be tough. A lot of the predictions at the beginning were Boston winning in six or maybe them winning in seven. We knew it was going to go long series. It’s our turn to win it now.”
It was a missed opportunity for the Capitals, who had the home-ice advantage after winning on Saturday in Boston but never held the lead. The Bruins scored first and the teams alternated goals, as has been the case through much of the series, before Seguin delivered the final blow not long into the overtime period.
A sloppy pass from Nicklas Backstrom intended for Marcus Johansson was intercepted by David Krejci, who quickly looped it to Milan Lucic before Seguin began streaking down the right side.
Lucic found Seguin, who took three steps, cocked back, dug his blade into the ice and waited for Holtby to dive at the puck.
Then, with the goaltender sprawled out, Seguin merely flicked it in behind him for the victory.
“He just out-waited me,” said Holtby, who had 27 saves. “It’s pretty clear. It’s a play I’d like to give myself a better chance on.”
The 20-year-old Seguin led the Bruins with 29 goals and 67 total points during the regular season, but was mostly invisible for the previous five games before stepping up Sunday. It was because of his effort that Boston took a 3-2 lead 11:57 into the third period; he stole the pick from Alexander Semin and rifled a shot from the right circle that bounced off Holtby’s pads before Andrew Ference put it in.
Rich Peverley scored the first goal of the game 5:56 in, deflecting a Ference slap shot from the high slot, and Krejci scored the Bruins’ second goal on a power play 16:48 in on a give-and-go with Lucic on a rush that Holtby had no chance at.
In between, Mike Green scored on a deflection of his own – his shot went off Boston defenseman Greg Zanon’s left leg 9:47 in for his first goal since Oct. 22 – and Jason Chimera tied the score at 2-2 in the final minute of the second period when he flicked in a well-placed pass from Backstrom just in front of the crease.
Alex Ovechkin sent the game to overtime with just under five minutes to play, rifling a slap shot past two screens in the Bruins’ Patrice Bergeron and Dennis Seidenberg before it headed past goalie Tim Thomas.
Ovechkin, who scored his second goal of the playoffs and his 27th career postseason goal, celebrated with his patented leap into the glass to bring the Verizon Center crowd to a fever pitch.
“You’re on top of the world when something like that happens,” Alzner said. “It feels really good, you got tons of momentum. We were pressing hard. If we had maybe another three or four minutes in that period, we could have probably scored another one the way we were going.”
The Capitals went 4-for-5 on the penalty kill to move their success down a man on the series to 18-for-20. They killed off a double-minor served by Ovechkin for high-sticking early in the second and then battled through a 5-on-3 for 1:43 that bridged the second and third periods.
Thomas, who faced 38 shots, stopped 35. And the Bruins maintained their physicality, again claiming a 37-32 advantage in hits.
The aggression won’t end Wednesday with the decisive game in Boston. Though the Capitals entered the postseason as the Eastern Conference’s No. 7 seed, Bruins head coach Claude Julien said they’ve shown they’re a much better team.
A victory would prove it.
“Game 7 is a grinding kind of game,” Capitals head coach Dale Hunter said. “We’re used to playing it. Every game here has been a tough game. There have been six games [and] both sides are, I imagine, a little bit banged up. But little bruises – they’ll forget about them come Game 7.”
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