If Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals was any indication, it’s entirely possible that the Bruins might actually ‘out-excite’ the 2011 postseason, if that is even possible. The only things Game 1 between the Bruins and Capitals lacked Thursday night at TD Garden were goals and an ending, and Chris Kelly took care of both by himself 78 seconds into overtime.
Here are three things we learned on another heart-stopping night:
Chris Kelly the hero (again)
Underrated playoff legend. That first-round series against the Canadiens last April is largely forgotten, given all that followed on the road to the Stanley Cup title, but it was Kelly who played a huge role in turning that series around after the Canadiens went up 2-0. Kelly’s goal late in Game 4 tied the score and led to a critical OT victory. On Thursday, after a nifty save by Tim Thomas, it was Kelly who did the overtime heroics himself, beating an otherwise brilliant Caps goaltender in Braden Holtby (29 saves) on the glove side to win the game.
It’s been the Bruins’ third line of Kelly, Brian Rolston and Benoit Pouliot who have carried the Bruins the past month, and it was that trio again who produced the game’s lone goal.
The Bruins own Ovechkin
What has been true the past two seasons was true Thursday night: Alexander Ovechkin is a non-factor, as long as Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg have any say in the matter. Ovechkin managed just one third-period shot on goal in regulation and had one other attempt blocked. His only real action came earlier, when Seidenberg wiped him out near center ice.
The Bruins defense as a whole clamped down on the Caps, holding them to just seven shots on goal through two periods, and when Washington picked up the pace in the third (9 shots), Thomas was on top of his postseason game again.
Another power outage
The Bruins got away with it last year, but the inability to convert on the power play is going to doom them eventually. The Capitals essentially handed the Bruins a six-minute man advantage from the last 90 seconds of the first period until 4:29 gone in the second, and still no goals. The Capitals were one of the worst penalty-killing teams in the league this season, and the Bruins must take advantage.