Bruins center Chris Kelly ended a scoreless game 1:18 into overtime, beating rookie goaltender Braden Holtby with a slap shot to give the Bruins a 1-0 win over the Capitals in Game 1 of the first-round playoff series at TD Garden.
Increasingly quiet because of the game’s lack of scoring and their team’s squandered chances, Bruins fans were allowed to exhale after Kelly’s goal. The Garden erupted as the Bruins celebrated on the ice and the Capitals skated off it, a fitting way to punctuate the first game of Boston’s Stanley Cup title defense.
The goal developed because of a kick-save by Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas. The puck kicked out to Brian Rolston, who moved it up the wing to Benoit Pouliot, who found a streaking Kelly one step ahead of his defender. Kelly let one rip, and for the the first time all night the puck found the back of the net.
The sight of puck hitting webbing was a welcome one. Neither team created a solid scoring chance in the first 20 minutes. The Bruins out-shot the Capitals, 9-5, in the first period, but they failed to make it difficult for Holtby in his first career playoff start. Each team committed a penalty in the first, but the power plays proved just as bereft of chances as the five-on-five action.
The Bruins did everything but score in the second period, but there’s no prize for that. The shots in the second period went 15-12 in favor of the Bruins, but once again the B’s failed to find the back of the net. Unlike in the first period, the Bruins didn’t lack chances in the second. Daniel Paille’s shot in front at the 8:28 mark came minutes after Brad Marchand had a similar chance, but Holtby was up to the task. The Bruins peppered Holtby with six shots on a power play to start the second, but none of them broke through.
The Capitals finally seemed to find their edge in the third, outshooting the Bruins, 9-3. Thomas was tested for the first time in the game, and he reverted to the dominant Thomas of last year’s playoffs. Thomas made the second of two tremendous saves during a Capitals power play four minutes into the period. A short time later, Boychuk bailed out his goalie by diving to the ice to cover an open net.
It seemed as if the two teams might play all night, but the Bruins’ 30th and final shot of the game was Kelly’s. The Capitals finished with 17 shots on goal.
Game 2 is Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. at TD Garden.
18:42: Bruins win, 1-0, on a slap shot by Chris Kelly, who streaked down the left side of the ice and put a hard shot on net for the only goal of the game. Holtby went to his right and Kelly’s shot went left
End third: Overtime. Shots are Boston 29, Washington 16.
1:33: One final push here for both teams before potential overtime.
7:33: David Krejci almost gives the game away with a lazy pass in his own zone. Thomas with a stop.
9:43: Johnny Boychuk throws himself in front of an empty net to prevent a goal. Great play. The Bruins have already let this game get into the danger zone. Lots of nervous fans in the building.
14:39: Tim Thomas makes a couple of unbelievable saves during Washington’s power play to preserve the tie.
16:48: Penalty on Zdeno Chara for cross-checking.
End second: The Bruins did everything but score in the second period, but they don’t get anything for that. Shots on goal are 26-7 in favor of Boston. Braden Holtby is standing on his head. The Capitals are still in this game despite being badly outplayed.
5:18: The Capitals escape this one, too. Good chances for Boston on that 4-on-3, but no goals to show for it. Not putting one of these shots in earlier could come back to bite the Bruins.
7:17: Roughing penalty on Holtby for knocking down Chris Kelly in the crease. Bruins have a man-advantage.
7:42: Some extracurricular activity behind Washington’s net between Milan Lucic and John Carlson results in a four-on-four.
8:28: Great chance out in front for Daniel Paille, but Holtby makes another stop. Give the kid credit, he’s keeping Washington in this game.
11:40: There’s a flurry of activity now as both teams race end to end. Marchand has a great chance out in front of the goal but has his shot blocked. Shots are climbing for the Bruins, who now have 19 to Washington’s five.
17:31: The Bruins don’t score, but they pepper Holtby with six shots on the remainder of their power play. Their reward? Another power play. Two minutes for delay of game for Troy Brouwer.
END first: No score after one here at TD Garden. The Bruins will have 2:27 remaining on a power play to start the second. Shots on goal are 9-5 in favor of the Bruins.
1:33: The Bruins will have their first power play. Double-minor, high-sticking penalty for Jay Beagle.
On the previous shift, both Chara and Seidenberg managed to lay a hit on Ovechkin. The Bruins would obviously like to do more of that.
7:06: And we have our first penalty. David Krejci is called for boarding on everyone’s favorite former Bruin, Dennis Wideman.
9:41: As we suspected before the game based on the pairings at this morning’s skate, the Bruins are using the defensive pairing of Chara-Seidenberg vs. the Ovechkin line. and Ference-Boychuk vs. the Backstrom line.
13:44: Shawn Thornton delivers the first big hit of the game on Marcus Johansson up against the boards. There’s that fourth line coming into play. More complete from top to bottom, the Bruins will do well if they can get production out of that fourth unit.
16:55: No great chances, but shots on goal are 4-0 Bruins. Most of the early action in Washington’s end.
19:19: Little scuffle behind the Capitals net between Brad Marchand and Jay Beagle. Faceoff coming for the Bruins in Washington’s zone.
Pregame: Jerry York’s national champion BC Eagles are in the house.
The Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa notes that Zdeno Chara and Johnny Boychuk are starting along with the Marchand-Bergeron-Seguin line. Chara won’t be paired with Dennis Seidenberg, at least for now.
Who do you think will win tonight? Who wins the series? What are you looking for right off the bat? Leave a comment, and enjoy the game.