By Lewis Gould
If the Caps ultimately lose this first-round series with the Bruins, last night’s loss in Game 2 will be the turning point.
Because the Caps could have gone up two games to one, and instead they’re in a knife fight with the healthy and hungry Bruins.
Brad Marchand scored 39 seconds into overtime and the Bruins rallied to beat the Caps 4-3, tying the East Division first-round playoff series at a game apiece.
Marchand ripping a one-timer past Craig Anderson to send the series back to Boston tied will be remembered far more than him jabbing Capitals defenseman Brenden Dillon below the belt at the end of a scrum in the first period or slashing Anthony Mantha when they got into it in the second. But those won’t be forgotten, and could have derailed him.
This series has helped the NHL playoffs get off to a roaring start with five consecutive one-goal games, including four reaching overtime. The Capitals and Bruins are certainly no strangers to it. They’ve now played nine consecutive one-goal games in the postseason dating to their 2012 series.
Game 3 is Wednesday night in Boston.
“I think 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.”
The Bruins were less than three minutes away from pure desperation mode in the series.
Two penalties early in the third period took Boston out of rhythm as Garnet Hathaway scored his second of the game to give Washington the lead with 12:56 left. Anderson — who made 38 consecutive saves after allowing two goals on the first five Bruins shots — was a rock until Taylor Hall whacked a loose puck past him with 2:49 left in regulation.
“It was a greasy goal, for sure,” said Hall, who joined the Bruins at the trade deadline. “It wasn’t a perfect game for me. I still have another level to get to personally, but as a team we came together and won a game and that’s all you can ask for.”
Boston got 36 saves from Tuukka Rask, who was beaten twice by deflections. Hathaway scored twice and T.J. Oshie redirected a shot in for Washington, which played without goaltenders Vitek Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov and center Evgeny Kuznetsov, and lost center Lars Eller to a lower-body injury in the middle of Game 2.
“(Rask) certainly played well, gave us a chance to win,” Cassidy said. “The game was always close. You don’t want it to get away from you. I thought both goalies were good. I thought their guy was excellent, too, but we were one better.”