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Bruins Take Playoff Opener Over Capitals in OT: Fan Reaction
The Boston Bruins began their Stanley Cup defense with a 1-0 overtime win over the Washington Capitals on April 12. Tim Thomas pitched a 17-save shutout and Chris Kelly broke a 61-minute long stalemate with the game's only goal in overtime to give Boston a 1-0 series lead. Though their own goals were hard to come by thanks to a phenomenal showing by Braden Holtby, the Bruins played exactly the kind of game they need to play throughout the playoffs, leaning on the same defense and intensity that led them to the Cup a year ago.
When the Ottawa Senators and the Capitals traded seeds on the final day of the regular season, it was by no means a cause for panic, but it wasn't as appealing of a matchup for Boston. The Bruins dominated Ottawa in the regular season and appeared to match up very well with their division foes. While Washington is down to its third goaltender, Braden Holtby has the talent to make up for his inexperience and the Capitals boast some very dangerous offensive weapons. They fell short of a division title for the first time in five years, but took home four more wins than any other team in the Southeast.
In Game 1 against the Bruins, the Capitals demonstrated why they are a tough matchup. It took them two periods to build sustained rhythm in their attacking zone, but they played the Bruins tough all night long. Their penalty kill fought off nearly six consecutive minutes of Bruins' power play time between the first and second periods and Holtby withstood a shots on goal differential that was nearly four-to-one in favor of the Bruins through 40 minutes.
The defensive pairing of Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg picked up right where it left off in last year's Stanley Cup Playoffs to anchor a brilliant defensive performance by the Bruins as a team. The Bruins held the Capitals to just 17 shots on goal and the Chara-Seidenberg pairing pestered Alex Ovechkin throughout the game, limiting him to only one shot. The pair's continued success against Ovechkin is one of the key's to the series for Boston.
Boston's third line of Benoit Pouliot, Kelly, and Brian Rolston has enjoyed great success since first teaming up in March and it was appropriate that they generated the scoring opportunity that led to the game's only goal. Kelly's game-winner followed his first 20-goal year; he was one of six Bruins to score at least 20 goals during the regular season. Going three scoring lines deep despite Nathan Horton's absence was tough to foresee before the trade deadline, but Rolston has found new legs in Boston and that line has really meshed well.
Game 2 between the Bruins and Capitals will take place on Saturday, April 14 at TD Garden.
Boston Bruins, Yahoo! Sports
William Menna is a native New Englander and longtime Boston sports fan.
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