WASHINGTON -- Rookie goaltender Braden Holtby returned to the form he showed in Boston last weekend, stopping 44 of 45 shots to lead the Washington Capitals to a 2-1 win over the Boston Bruins Thursday night in front of a sellout crowd at the Verizon Center.
Marcus Johansson scored on the Capitals' first shot of the game, and Alex Semin netted a power-play goal late in the second period as the Capitals knotted the best-of-seven series at two victories apiece.
The series shifts to Boston for Game 5 on Saturday, with Game 6 scheduled for Sunday in Washington. All four games in the series have been decided by one goal.
The Capitals are 2-7 in their playoff history when a best-of-seven series is tied at 2-2.
The Capitals killed off a pivotal Bruins power play when Mike Knuble was whistled for holding Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk with 9:512 remaining in the third period. The Bruins, who entered the game 0-for-11 on the power play, failed to record a shot on goal on the man-advantage.
After being dominated for most of the first period, the Capitals found their legs in the second period and grabbed a 2-1 lead on Semin's power-play goal with 2:07 remaining in the second period.
The Caps went on their third power play of the night when Patrice Bergeron was caught hooking the stick out of Brook Laich's hands. While on the man-advantage, Semin took a pass from Keith Aucoin and snapped a rising wrist shot high over the glove of Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas for his second goal of the playoffs and 14th of his career.
Semin also set up Dennis Wideman with a no-look pass earlier in the period, but Wideman's shot went off the mask of Thomas and over the net.
Holtby was outstanding in the second period, stopping all 18 shots he faced, including a pair of scoring chances by Bruins forward Tyler Seguin, who was stopped four times in the opening 40 minutes.
Having spent the previous two days talking about the number of scuffles in Game 3, the two teams played a relatively civil first period with a slashing call against Boston's Rich Peverley the only penalty.
Playing without center Nicklas Backstrom, who was serving a one-game suspension for cross-checking Peverley at the conclusion of Game 3, the Capitals took a 1-0 lead just 1:22 into the game on their first shot of the game.
A neutral zone pileup involving Alex Ovechkin and Andrew Ference allowed Laich to break in on a 2-on-1 with Johansson. The second-year forward snapped a one-timer past Thomas for his third career playoff goal.
The Bruins dominated the remainder of the period, outshooting the Capitals 14-3, and broke through against Hotlby at the 13:12 mark when Peverley beat him between the pads for his second goal of the playoffs.
An offensive zone giveaway by Ovechkin led to a 3-on-1 breakout by the Bruins, and Peverley waited out Holtby before snapping a shot off the inside of his right pad and into the net for his sixth playoff goal in 35 career games.
Notes: Bruins left wing Milan Lucic and Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner were Pee Wee teammates when they were both 12 years old. Last month Alzner jokingly Tweeted that he would win a fight between the two but has made it clear he has no interest in finding out. "He would not be a guy I would fight, that's for sure," Alzner said. ... The Bruins are 19-6 when taking a 2-1 lead in a best-of-seven series and 15-2 when leading a series 3-1. The Capitals are 2-6 when trailing a best-of-seven series 3-1 and 2-7 when a series is tied 2-2. . . . Through the first three games of the series neither team held a lead greater than one goal. . . .The Capitals entered Game 4 ranked second in the playoffs in blocked shots with 64. Karl Alzner ranked third in the league with 11 blocks and Roman Hamrlik was next with 10 . . . The Bruins entered Game 4 still looking for their first power-play goal of the playoffs. They were 0-for-11 in the first three games of the series. ... The Bruins allowed just one shorthanded goal all season. ... Game 5 is scheduled for 3 p.m. on Saturday in Boston's TD Garden.