Caps try to knot series with Bruins minus Backstrom
Wednesday, 04.18.2012 / 5:38 PMBRUINS at CAPITALS
(Boston leads best-of-seven series, 2-1)
TV: NBCSN, CBC, RDS, NESN, CSN-MA
The Bruins will look to claim a two-game lead in the series while the Capitals will try to level it without star center Nicklas Backstrom
Boston ramped up the level of its physical play Monday in Game 3, and the result was a feistier contest than the first two in the series. Coach Claude Julien said he told his players before Game 3 they needed more emotion in their game, and the Bruins responded with 58 hits and plenty of post-whistle snarl.
Goaltender Tim Thomas
, the object of some creative attention from the Verizon Center crowd, did not have a sharp outing in Game 3, but the Bruins found more open space -- and more importantly, found a way through Washington's compact defense to score a pair of goals on rebounds. The top forwards still aren't scoring, but captain Zdeno Chara
produced a game-winner in the 59th minute to help the Bruins regain control of the series.
Washington's players were a little too willing to engage in the rough stuff with the Bruins in Game 3. Boston scored twice in four-on-four situations, including the game-winner, that were the result of post-whistle scrums involving Boston's Milan Lucic
. Worse for the Capitals was Backstrom's cross-check to the visor of Rich Peverley
as time expired in the third period.
Backstrom was assessed a match penalty for intent to injure and then suspended for Game 4. The Capitals played 40 games this season without Backstrom because of a concussion, including all four contests against Boston -- and they won three of them. They even won one of them without Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin
(who was suspended). Mathieu Perreault
, who will replace Backstrom next to Alexander Semin
for this contest, had two goals in that victory.
Two players for the Bruins have three points each through three games, and both (Chris Kelly
, Brian Rolston
) have been trade acquisitions by Boston in the past two seasons. … Brooks Laich
caused a bit of a stir in Washington when he guaranteed the Capitals would make the playoffs before the team's penultimate game of the regular season. He has six points in the five games since then, including a nifty breakaway goal and crafty "go long" pass to Ovechkin for his tally in Game 3.
Boston defenseman Adam McQuaid
(head/eye) didn't make the trip to Washington. Backup goaltender Tuukka Rask
is here, but hasn't been cleared to return to the lineup. … Washington goaltenders Michal Neuvirth
and Tomas Vokoun
were both on the ice Wednesday. Neuvirth could be close to returning, but Vokoun said he doesn't know when he can come back from what he deemed a significant groin tear.
The Bruins have 18 points in three games and 10 of them are from guys general manager Peter Chiarelli has added since February 2011. Kelly and Rolston have three, Benoit Pouliot
has two and both Rich Peverley
and Greg Zanon
have one. … Boston is one of two teams left without a power-play goal in this postseason (fellow 2011 Cup finalist Vancouver is the other). The Bruins didn't score a goal with the extra-man in their seven-game series in the first round with Montreal last season, either.
This series was pretty cordial for two games in Boston, but it got nasty in a hurry during Game 3. Having an extra day off has escalated the verbal jousting between the teams as well. Boston coach Claude Julien was not happy that one of his players has been high-sticked in the face in each game.
Washington coach Dale Hunter and his players have complained that the Bruins were targeting Backstrom's head because of his recent concussion -- an assertion Julien strongly refuted Wednesday. It isn't quite on the level the Philadelphia-Pittsburgh series has reached, but if there wasn't much bad blood between these two teams before the series, there is now.