Capitals pushed to the brink of elimination with Game 4 loss to Bruins

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Caps pushed to the brink with Game 4 loss to Bruins originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The Capitals are on the brink of elimination after a 4-1 loss in Game 4 to the Boston Bruins on Friday. In a series in which all three prior games had gone to overtime and no team had, at any point, managed to claim a two-goal lead, Boston opened things up with the most dominant performance of the series.

The Caps will now be playing for their playoff lives on Sunday in Game 5 when play shifts back to Washington.

Here is how the loss happened.

Washington's power play

The Capitals went 1-for-7 on the power play and it's not because Tuukka Rask stood on his head, the Caps looked just plain bad on the man advantage. The lone goal came on the sixth of those power plays when the score was already 3-0.

A power play works best when it has options and the strategy on Friday devolved to "make Alex Ovechkin do it by himself." The passes were forced, there was no traffic in front of the net and the Caps barely pressured Rask at all, managing just five shots on goal on four opportunities.

The one goal they did score was, of course, Ovechkin as his shot deflected off of Brandon Carlo and in.

Washington had the opportunity to take control of the game early in the first with a power play just 49 seconds into the game for too many men and another at 5:51 for a trip. Instead, the Caps mustered almost no offense and no momentum at all from the early chances.

Boston's power play

Boston went 3-for-5 on the man advantage and it could have been worse for the Caps. The Bruins were on point and scored at critical moments in the game.

With 0s still on the board in the second period, the Bruins finally broke through as Brad Marchand deflected in a shot from David Pastrnak. Washington has had no answer for Marchand playing right off the goal line in front of the net and this was just another example.

Boston started the third period and struck just 29 seconds in as David Pastrnak wristed a shot past Ilya Samsonov cleanly. By then, momentum had been building for the Bruins on the power play which seemed to be getting better as the game wore on. Matt Grzelcyk would score a third power play goal late in the third period to make it 4-1.

The first 63 seconds of the 3rd period

Down 1-0 in the game and 2-1 in the series, it felt like the season was on the line in the third period. Just 63 seconds into that period, the Caps saw their one-goal deficit turn into a three-goal deficit.

Pastrnak struck on the power play 29 seconds in. Just 34 seconds later, Charlie Coyle scored on a bizarre play. Jake DeBrusk had a breakaway opportunity and missed the net. The puck hit off the boards and DeBrusk managed to get a piece of it and tip back in front of the net where Coyle was able to score.

Unlucky? Yes, but there's no question the Bruins came into the third period smelling blood and Washington was not able to match that intensity.

Not enough rubber on Rask

Heading into Game 4, the Caps had scored eight goals in the series. Four of those goals were deflections and one was a two-on-one. If you want to beat Rask, you have to make life difficult for him because he is one of the top goalies in the league. The Caps did not do that.

Washington managed only four shots on goal in the first period. Their last shot in the first period came at the 8:39 mark. The Caps did not get another shot on goal until the 7:19 mark of the second.

The issue wasn't just a lack of shots, it was a lack of scoring opportunities. According to Natural Stat Trick, Washington managed just one high-danger scoring chance for the game. One. Boston had nine.

Rask faced only 20 shots on goal and few that seemed to pose any real danger. The Caps just did not make him work for this win.