A healthy Washington Capitals lineup? In this economy? It seems almost too good to be true, doesn’t it? For the first time this postseason, the Capitals are icing a lineup with all of their expected regular skaters. Lars Eller returned to the lineup tonight after missing Game 3 due to a lower-body injury sustained in Game 2. These lines should look familiar:
Game 4 Capitals lines vs Bruins:— Samantha Pell (@SamanthaJPell) May 21, 2021
Like Game 3, the goalie battle is between Tuukka Rask and Ilya Samsonov. Unlike Game 3, Craig Anderson (who turns 40 today — happy birthday, Andy!) is sitting back-up to Samsonov after not dressing on Wednesday for a body maintenance day. Samsonov played 85 stellar minutes in Game 3 before the massive miscommunication with Justin Schultz that led to Boston’s OT game winner — can he bring that brilliance back to the Washington crease tonight?
Game 4. Capitals and Bruins. Let’s go.
Here’s Friday night’s Plus/Minus:
Plus: Ilya Samsonov showed up tonight. He was the only reason the Capitals went into first intermission tied at 0-0 and second intermission only down by one.
Minus: The Caps were grossly outplayed in every aspect of the game tonight, except for goaltending. They seemed to wake up a bit with about ten minutes to go, but it was too little too late.
And now, some pregame weirdness for some levity:
Twelve more notes on the game:
1. Just 49 seconds after puck drop, the Capitals got a power play opportunity after the Bruins got called for too many men on the ice. Washington got two shots off on the man-advantage, but the Bruins’ penalty kill successfully kept the Caps off the board. Then, a few minutes after the refs missed a pretty obvious high-stick on Backstrom from Craig Smith, the Caps did in fact get their second power play of the evening when Charlie Coyle was called for tripping with 14:09 left in the first. This PK was even better for the Bruins, holding the Caps to zero shots on goal. The Capitals’ power play is looking incredibly lackluster right now, and that’s going to need to change real soon. Fingers crossed these early missed power play opportunities don’t come back to bite the Caps.
2. Michael Raffl capped off a rough ten seconds, in which he decided not to shoot on a three-on-two and subsequently lost the puck, with a trip to the box for an offensive zone tripping penalty on Mike Reilly. With just 37.6 seconds to go before the first intermission, the Bruins got their first power play opportunity of the night. Charlie Coyle had Ilya Samsonov beat with mere seconds to go in the first, but the puck hit the post and bounced out of the crease. Thank you, post! The Bruins did not record a shot on their split power play, even after returning from intermission with fresh legs. Immediately after the penalty expired, Raffl and Tom Wilson, who was absolutely gassed after the PK, had a two-on-one rush down the ice and Wilson’s shot hit the crossbar. That’s his second crossbar ping in two games, oof.
3. That first period from the Capitals was absolutely uninspired. They had two even-strength shots through 20 minutes, just one shot in the final 16:43 of the period, and zero shots in the final 11:21.
For a game the Caps need to win, this is certainly not a great start to get it done.
4. With 13:57 left in the second, Ilya Samsonov made a spectacular toe save on Taylor Hall but looked very uncomfortable after the play. The refs eventually blew the whistle, and Samsonov needed a bit of a breather to skate it off. Thankfully, after a TV timeout, he was back in the crease and ready to go.
5. 7:27 into the second, Dmitry Orlov laid a huge and late hit on Kevan Miller, who also hit his head on the ice as he fell. Orlov was initially assessed a five-minute major on the play, but it was rescinded after a review and changed to a double minor for roughing.
Charlie Coyle was also assessed a minor for roughing, leading to a Boston power play. 32 seconds into said power play, Brad Marchand made Orlov pay for his ill-advised hit with a beauty of a power play goal. David Pastrnak fired the puck on net from the top of the right circle, and Marchand made a perfect deflection past Samsonov to give the Bruins the lead.
The Bruins also announced at the end of the second period that Miller would not return and had been transported to the hospital for further evaluation. We wish Miller all the best and hope he’s okay.
6. Garnet Hathaway took a trip to the box with 8:59 to go in the second when he got called for “roughing” Patrice Bergeron in the offensive zone, putting Boston on the power play once again. The B’s PP unit had great zone time but could not convert. Then, with 5:57 left, Jake DeBrusk sat for two minutes for slashing Anthony Mantha. The Caps’ PP struggled on their zone entries and could not manage much sustained zone time, let alone an equalizer. Still 1-0 Boston.
7. The Capitals went back on the power play just 2:17 before second intermission after Patrice Bergeron took a delay of game penalty. If ever there were a time for the Capitals to shake things up and get innovative on the power play, this would be it. Alas, it was not meant to be. Then, as soon as Bergeron’s penalty expired, Anthony Mantha was called for interference in the o-zone on Charlie McAvoy. The Bruins had only 15 seconds of PP time to work with before intermission, but they put excellent pressure on the Caps’ PK. Nick Jensen ended up taking a shot off his cheek, and still blocked another shot before the period ended.
29 seconds into the third, the Bruins took advantage of their well-rested power play unit and Pastrnak but Boston up 2-0 with a PPG of his own from the right circle. This is the first multi-goal lead either team has held this series.
8. A mere 34 seconds later, Charlie Coyle put the Bruins up by three after a failed breakaway from Jake DeBrusk. DeBrusk’s shot bounced off the glass, hit Brenden Dillon who was trailing on the play, and landed right on Coyle’s stick in the crease. 3-0 Boston with 18:57 to go.
9. There was a bit of a fracas after Coyle’s goal that resulted in Tom Wilson (roughing), Nick Ritchie (roughing), and Brandon Carlo (unsportsmanlike conduct) all heading to the sin bin. Uh-oh, time for another Washington power play. There was actually a great chance on net in these two minutes, but it was for the Boston Bruins. However, Alex Ovechkin did lay this crunch of a hit on Marchand.
10. The Bruins continue to mock the Capitals by putting them on the power play as Brad Marchand was called for interference on John Carlson 4:16 into the third. 38 seconds later, the Capitals finally converted on a power play and got on the board. Alex Ovechkin wound up for one of his patented one-timers, but ended up breaking his stick and the shot was much weaker than both Tuukka Rask and defenseman Brandon Carlo expected. Tom Wilson was looking for the deflection in front of the net, but it was actually Carlo who tipped the puck past his own goaltender.
Nicklas Backstrom recorded the secondary helper on the tally, his first point of the postseason.
11. The Caps were maybe showing some signs of life in the second half of the third but then, with 6:29 to go, Mantha took his second penalty of the game after a hard drive to the net resulted in goalie interference on Tuukka Rask. John Carlson lost his stick and Matt Grzelcyk potted Boston’s third PPG of the night with a rocket of a top shelf shot over Samsonov’s glove. 4-1 Bruins with 5:10 remaining.
12. Charlie Coyle got dinged for delay of game with 3:38 to go, and Ilya Samsonov started this power play on the bench to give Washington a six-on-four PP. It looked more like the Caps were on the PK during some of this power play. No dice, 4-1 Boston victory.
The series returns to Washington for Game 5 this Sunday at 7pm with Boston holding onto a decisive 3-1 series lead and Washington hoping to avoid elimination.