The Boston Bruins simply survived the first three periods of Game 3 against the Washington Capitals. But they found their second wind in the two overtime sessions.
Bruce Cassidy’s side were outscored 29-24 in the first 60 minutes. Their power play appeared once again. They self-inflicted with a handful of turnovers in the defensive end.
Still, after a few tight calls late in the third, the Bruins persevered. They eventually evened things out on – of all things – a Brad Marchand power play scorer. Their relentless pressure on Ilya Samsonov finally paid off as Craig Smith took a break and brought the fifth period winner home to give Boston the 3-2 triumph.
“Every game has been close and it could go both ways,” Cassidy said after the Bruins took the series 2-1 lead. “We were lucky that they touched some pipes. This has been our story all year – we hit a lot of tips. But I thought in overtime those breaks would balance out and we looked great, and obviously we had a break at the end.
Here’s what we learned as the Bruins got a break to cap the double-overtime thriller.
Sticktoitiveness presented after David Pastrnak’s missed OT double call
In the blink of an eye, a struggling David Pastrnak found himself all alone on a breakaway attempt in second overtime. As he prepared to shoot Samsonov, Brendan Dillon and TJ Oshie collectively took him down at the last minute, preventing the Bruins from scoring the winner. Pastrnak hit the boards hard but skated on his own after a stoppage in play.
Cassidy “absolutely” believed that the uncalled violation merited a penalty shot or minor penalty. Instead, the Bruins and Caps stayed at 5v5 even after a post-whistle-blowing altercation between Dillon and Marchand.
“I thought two sticks fell on it and one clearly affected his shot,” Cassidy said. “Look, I know this is hard work and it’s overtime, and you want to make sure. But for me, I felt these are the calls for you to make, right? If the guy is on his own, it’s a chance to score – a no-brainer. I thought they missed that one, obviously they didn’t feel the same… it’s good to see our guys play through that.
The Bruins quickly put the no-appeal behind them. The Caps fell asleep at the worst moment after Samsonov left the puck behind the net. Always opportunistic, Smith defeated Justin Schultz in the free puck and capped another thrilling victory with a celebration of Superman.
“It’s playoff hockey,” said Smith. “But I think our group is just focusing on the next game and trying to stay in each other. Obviously every game is just a different story, and we have to keep moving forward and [have] a next shift mentality. And that’s kind of where we’re at in setting things up, and we’ll take care of the rest as we go.
The winner from Smith took Boston’s second victory of the season. The replay will likely end up among some of the Not Top 10 lists on SportsCenter. But another tally from one of Smith’s teammates will work its way into a montage of the best goals of the year.
Taylor Hall credits ‘Goalie Bob’ after highlighting reel marker
Boston goaltending coach Bob Essensa often finds himself helping Tuukka Rask, Jeremy Swayaman and Jaroslav Halak with their techniques. His insight, however, goes beyond improvements to goalkeepers.
Hall will take advice from anyone who wants to help him polish his game. The veteran winger spoke to Essensa in the hours leading up to Game 3. One specific talking point he received from Essensa was shoot the puck around an opposing goalie and shoot quickly.
That feedback resonated with Hall as the Caps released their third different goaltender this series. With his back turned on Samsonov following a pass from Krejci, Hall returned with the puck on his stick around the Caps goalie and quickly climbed to the top for the first period equalizer.
“Our goalie coach Bob Essensa skated close to me in morning practice today and commented on a shot I had in the last game that I probably could have gotten around it . [the goalie] instead of just shooting 5 holes quickly. So it was kind of on my mind as the day wore on, ”Hall said of the advice he had received from“ Guardian Bob ”. “There are times in games when you want to put him in the net quickly and you want to surprise the goalie. But there are also times when, if you can make a game around it, then that’s what you can do too.
Over the course of three periods, the Caps D left little room for the Bruins to work. In the rare event that he had space against a big Washington squad, a confident Hall took advantage and kept his team afloat in the midst of a tough 60 minutes.
Rask protected himself in a fiery moment
The Bruins and Capitals had 117 hits in Game 3. The total would have been much higher if the league had counted all the contact moments after the whistle.
On a night where he tied legendary Gerry Cheevers for most of the playoff wins in Bruins history, Rask found himself in the middle of one of those post-whistle scrimmages. In his fiery moment, a helmetless Rask delivered a forehand to Garnet Hathaway following a collision in the second period.
In a closely refereed match, the referees refused to award a minor penalty to Hathaway or Rask. Yet Rask simply viewed the streak as a protective streak.
“I’m just protecting myself,” Rask said of the incident with Hathaway. “I’m not surprised there wasn’t a penalty. It’s gonna take a long time for them to call anything, so I thought I’d let him know if he approached that maybe I gave him a few too many. [punches]. I don’t know if that’s what the referee was thinking.
When he failed to deliver jabs, Rask provided the Bruins with timely saves throughout regulation. Both Washington goals came on turnovers, with Alex Ovechkin coming in alone on a power play attempt and Nic Dowd scoring his second tally of the series on a Pastrnak spitting at the blue line.
The Bruins relieved Rask throughout overtime, passing the Caps 19-8 in 25:48 in sudden death hockey. And now their most successful goaltender of all time in the regular season sits one win off the top of the playoff winning list.
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