Not exactly a gem last night, acknowledged the first-place Bruins.
They coughed up pucks. They gave the trigger-happy Capitals six power plays. They couldn't get much going offensively in the first 40 minutes.
"We had a lot of turnovers and forced a lot of passes," said coach Claude Julien. "Obviously, it wasn't our best."
But as expected of a top team, the Bruins made plays when necessary. There was the pickoff and backhand roofer by grinder Shawn Thornton in the first period. There was the dive-retrieve-dish sequence by Patrice Bergeron in the second period that led to Marc Savard's power-play goal. There were the bang-bang, back-to-back overtime saves by Tim Thomas on top-liners Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.
It just so happened the Bruins claimed a 3-2 overtime win over the second-place Capitals with a broken play.
During a four-on-three power play in overtime, David Krejci had the puck down low and considered his options. Earlier during the power play, goalie Jose Theodore robbed Krejci with a glove save. So this time, Krejci chose to send a cross-crease pass to Savard. The pass never arrived.
Krejci's feed caromed off Shaone Morrisonn and skittered past Theodore at 1:55 of OT to give the Bruins the victory before 17,565 at TD Banknorth Garden. It was Boston's first win over Washington in three chances this season.
"It's finding ways to win," Julien said. "And we did that."
Thomas helped trigger the power play earlier in OT. The slippery Ovechkin, who injured his right shoulder late in the second period (he was hooked by Zdeno Chara and slammed into the end boards) but finished the game, didn't appear to have a shooting angle. But that's never stopped the goal-hungry Russian (a game-high nine shots in 20:56 of ice time), who surprised Thomas with a bad-angle shot that landed with the usual Ovechkin oomph.
"He gets shots off at such funny angles," said Thomas. "And he gets something on them. He got a shot off that sort of handcuffed me and made me put the rebound in the slot. I looked up and saw Backstrom in the slot. I thought to myself, 'Man, if I'm going to put that rebound in the slot, I better get over there to get that rebound.' "
Thomas threw out his right pad just in time to stop Backstrom's winning bid, kicking off the rush the other way. Blake Wheeler, stickhandling down the right wing, saw a mass of black streaking for the far post.
"Can't miss him," Wheeler said of Chara. "If you have any peripheral vision, you'll see that big 6-9 [guy] barreling down."
As Wheeler sent Chara a pass, the captain was hauled down by Backstrom at 0:48, putting the Capitals a man down and setting up Krejci's deciding strike.
But before Krejci's goal, the Bruins had to wipe out a 2-1 Washington lead (defenseman Mike Green beat Thomas with a slapper at 2:08 of the first, then center Michael Nylander slipped a backhander into the net at 19:39). In the second period, after Nylander was sent off for hooking, the Bruins went on their third power play. And that's when Bergeron decided to force the play.
Penalty killer Alexander Semin was approaching the puck along the wall in hopes of clearing the zone. With Chara caught up ice after attempting a backdoor shot, Bergeron was the lone man back in the umbrella formation. But that didn't stop Bergeron from leaving his skates and diving for the puck - a high-risk maneuver that could have backfired.
"It wasn't so much his risk more than it was the other guys not really reacting," Julien said. "What if he doesn't get it? I thought we tied the game on a bit of a lucky break. If he doesn't keep it in, it's a two-on-none, and it could have easily been 3-1 instead of 2-2."
Bergeron stretched past Semin, gained control, then got back on his skates. Bergeron spotted Savard in the slot and fed him a pass. Savard waited for defenseman Karl Alzner to slide by, then fired a wrist shot past Theodore (25 saves) to tie the game at 14:12 of the second.
"I went for it," Bergeron said. "I knew it was kind of a risky play. You try sometimes and don't get any results. But it worked. As soon as I got up, I knew Savvy was going to be there. I saw him from the side a little bit. I just threw him a pass and he made a great play. Lot of patience and he put it in."
The pace doesn't relax. The Devils await tomorrow. The Rangers arrive for a Saturday matinee. The next day, the Bruins will be in La Belle Province, playing some team wearing blue, white, and red.
"These next three weeks are huge for us," Julien said. "We're not a team that looks too far ahead - but we realize what kind of schedule we have."