WASHINGTON -- Two days after losing their home ice advantage, the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins got it back.
And their captain led the way.
Defenseman Zdeno Chara blasted a slapshot through a screen and past rookie goaltender Braden Holtby with 1:53 remaining in regulation to send the Bruins to a 4-3 win over the Washington Capitals Monday night in front of a sellout crowd at the Verizon Center.
Chara's shot appeared to deflect off the stick of either teammate Dennis Seidenberg or Capitals defenseman Roman Hamrlik, who were tangled in front of Holtby. The puck changed direction and sailed over Holtby's glove.
Rich Peverley, Dan Paille and Brian Rolston also scored for the Bruins, who gained a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series with Game 4 slated for Thursday night in Washington.
The Capitals received goals from Alexander Semin, Alex Ovechkin and Brooks Laich.
The Bruins grabbed their first lead of the game 62 seconds into the third period when the oldest player on the ice, 39-year-old Rolston, finished off a gritty shift with his first goal of the playoffs and 20th post-season tally of his career.
Capitals defenseman Jeff Schultz lost a battle behind the Washington net and after the puck squirted out to the point, Chara threw a shot toward the crease that deflected off Chris Kelly and onto the stick of Rolston, who spun and scored to give the Bruins the lead.
The Capitals, who owned leads of 1-0 and 2-1, answered with 6 minutes remaining in regulation when Nicklas Backstrom sprung Laich on a breakaway. Laich lifted a backhander over goalie Tim Thomas to knot the score 3-3.
The two teams entered the third period locked in a 2-2 tie, which matched the number of goals the two teams combined to score in Games 1 and 2.
The Capitals scored the first power-play goal of the series when Alex Semin netted his first of the playoffs with 4 minutes remaining in the opening period.
Semin was whistled for tripping just 1:14 into the game but made up for it when, with Chara in the box for roughing, he ripped a 40-foot wrist shot through the pads of Thomas, who was making his first appearance in goal in Washington since refusing an invitation to the White House with the rest of his Stanley Cup-winning teammates.
The power-play goal snapped an 0-for-5 drought for the Capitals and marked the first time in the series that either team scored a first-period goal. The Caps had a 29-7-6 record this season (1-0 in the playoffs) when scoring the first goal of the game and the Bruins were 8-19-1 when trailing after one period.
The Bruins stormed back early in the second period, getting a goal from Rich Peverley at the 35-second mark on a rising shot that seemed to fool Holtby, rolling off the top of his catching glove and into the net.
The Caps replied 13 seconds later when Ovechkin scored his first goal of the playoffs off a long outlet pass from Laich. Ovechkin used a burst of speed to get a step on Seidenberg, and his slapshot appeared to deflect off Seidenberg's stick and past Thomas for a 2-1 lead.
The Bruins kept coming and after failing to score on three straight power plays, Paille tied the score to make it 2-2 midway through the second period. Paille, who celebrated his 28th birthday on Sunday, crashed the net and backhanded Greg Zanon's point shot past Holtby for his fourth career playoff goal in 42 postseason games.
Notes: Many of the fans behind the Bruins net wore Barack Obama cutout masks in protest of Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas' refusal to go to the White House earlier this season in recognition of the Bruins' Stanley Cup. . . .Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin passed Washington coach Dale Hunter and moved into sole possession of second place on the club's all-time playoff goals list with 26. Ovechkin has 26 goals in 40 playoff games. Hunter had 25 goals in 100 playoff games for the Caps. ... Capitals defenseman Roman Hamrlik played in his 100th career playoff game. ... The Bruins are trying to become the first NHL team to win back-to-back Stanley Cups since the 1997 and 1998 Red Wings . . . The Bruins finished the regular season with the third-best road record in the Eastern Conference (25-15-1), while the Capitals finished third in the East with a 26-11-4 record on home ice. ... The Bruins have 19 players on their roster with Stanley Cup rings; the Capitals have two - Troy Brouwer (2010 Blackhawks) and Mike Knuble (1998 Red Wings) . . . Two Bruins celebrated birthdays on Sunday. Goaltender Tim Thomas turned 38; forward Daniel Paille turned 28. ... Game 4 is slated for Thursday night in Washington.