The Bruins fell 4-3 to the Capitals in Game 5 and now face playoff elimination when they play tomorrow in Washington. In a game where momentum swung back and forth several times, a late power play goal by Troy Brouwer gave the Capitals the decisive lead. The game on Saturday afternoon was as physical and chippy as any game has been for the entire series, including two sets of coincidental minors that occurred because of after-whistle scrums. After falling behind 2-0 and 3-2, the Bruins found a way to tie the game and ignite a fire under TD Garden in the process. Ultimately, it would be the goaltenders who decided the game, as Capitals netminder Holtby made a huge save to keep the game tied at two in the 3rd Period and Tim Thomas let up a game-winning goal that he would certainly like to have back. In this game, the key story was the resilience of both teams to battle hard against momentum shifts and stay competitive.
The Capitals benefited from a few calls that Bruins’ coach Claude Julien heartily disagreed with in his post-game press conference. The first was a play where Bruins defensemen Joe Corvo was badly injured by blocking a shot and the referees used their discretion to allow play to continue (unlike they did when Capitals players were injured in Games 3 and 4.) Capitals’ forward Alex Semin ended up taking advantage of the injured Bruins’ D-man to score the first goal of the game. The other play happened with just over 2 minutes to play in the game, when Benoit Puliout was called for a slashing penalty that ultimately led to the game-winning goal. The call was fairly soft by any measure, especially considering the decisive impact it had on the game. These calls happen however, and if not for a far-out snap shot that fooled Tim Thomas the game would have gone to overtime.
Claude Julien can take some solace in the fact that his line changes going into this game seemed to inspire some of his under-performing players, most notably Brad Marchand. Marchand ended up playing with his regular linemates Patrice Bergeron and Rich Peverley for the game, but pre-game suggestions that Marchand would play with the 4th line seemed to ignite Marchand, leading him to score his first goal of the post-season and explode TD Garden into cheers when the Bruins tied the game at 2 in the second period. The first line of David Krejci centering Tyler Seguin and Milan Lucic, however, has still produced a negligible amount of points this series considering the production that those three put up during the regular season: Krejci and Lucic registered their first points of the series tonight when they both assisted on Dennis Seidenberg’s tally.
The Bruins have been in this situation before. As Johnny Boychuck iterated after the game, the B’s “know how to play solid with [their] backs against the wall”. Last year the B’s were down 2 games to none twice in the playoffs and down 3 games to 2 once. This team is nearly the same as the squad that won the Stanley Cup in historically clutch fashion last year. Tomorrow at 3PM on NBC, the Bruins will have a final chance to continue their defense of the Stanley Cup championship when they faceoff for Game 6 in Washington.