CAPITALS at BRUINS
(Best-of-seven series tied, 3-3)
TV: NBCSN, CBC, RDS, CSN-DC, NESN
Big Story: The defending Stanley Cup-champion Bruins will try to win a Game 7 for the fourth time in five series, while the Capitals will try to win one on the road after having four at home in the previous four seasons.
Capitals: Washington missed a great chance to finish off Boston in Game 6 on Sunday afternoon. The Capitals have spent much of this series defending and trying to hold off the Bruins, but Washington carried the play for longer stretches in Game 6. Turnovers were a problem and led to the final two Boston goals, but the Capitals' defense also had trouble handling the speed of Tyler Seguin and David Krejci.
Nicklas Backstrom made a great pass to Jason Chimera for a goal, but also didn't hustle back on Boston's third goal and his turnover led to the game-winner in overtime. Three of Washington's defensemen were victimized by Seguin, though only one led to a goal.
Instead of getting ready for the next round, the Caps head back to Boston.
"Obviously, Boston's a tough rink to play in, but I think it suits our team well because it brings us down to a level where we don't try to do too much," goaltender Braden Holtby said. "We don't try to be too fancy. I think we've been guilty of that in front of our home crowd a bit, letting our emotions get to us with the noise of the crowd and whatnot. And I think playing on the road really helps us."
Bruins: Boston has played from behind (on the scoreboard) for much of this series, but the Bruins took a one-goal lead three times in Game 6. Each time the Capitals responded, but the Bruins' showed their championship mettle by dominating the overtime and forcing a Game 7.
Seguin's star turn was a huge boost, because Boston's top forwards have not produced in this series. Milan Lucic did have two assists in Game 6, including one on the overtime goal, but he still hasn't the expected impact. Patrice Bergeron has played through an injury and helped win the faceoff that led to Boston's first goal. Bergeron went into the faceoff circle only once, late in the third period, but Rich Peverley replaced him well and continued to produce offense.
Coach Claude Julien gave credit to the Caps for making it difficult on the Bruins throughout the series.
"They're a good hockey club and that's why those situations keep happening," Julien said of the B's losing the lead three times in Game 6. "You look at the tying goal that's really off a faceoff and I mean we lose a draw and at the same we have two guys there, everybody's close, it went through a player's legs and snuck through Timmy [Thomas].
"So, those are things that are going to happen, you can't just keep harping on it. You can say you got to win draws, but in the game you lose some and you win some. Some of those goals were just goals that happened, same thing you got a guy sacrificing himself to block a shot on their first goal."
Who's Hot: Backstrom has four points in the past four games he has played in; he missed Game 5 because of a suspension. … Peverley is the only member of the Bruins with more than one goal in this series, and he leads the team with five points. He has a goal in three of the past four games.
Injury Report: Goaltender Michal Neuvirth is back for the Capitals to back up Braden Holtby, but veteran Tomas Vokoun (groin) remains out. Everyone else who has been with the team this season is healthy. … Bergeron is expected to play despite an injury from Game 5. Defenseman Joe Corvo missed Game 6, and he was not with the top six defenseman during practice Tuesday, so Mike Mottau could be in his place again. Defenseman Adam McQuaid remains out for the Bruins.
Stat Pack : Washington only blocked 12 shots in Game 6, leading to questions for coach Dale Hunter about Boston's tactics or change in strategy to elude the Capitals' shot blockers. The real reason the Bruins had fewer shots blocked is because they attempted to shoot the puck less. Boston averaged 74.4 shot attempts in the first five games, but tried only 57 shots in Game 6. Twenty-six of those shots (45.6 percent) did not reach Holtby. Had one more shot reached Holtby, it would have been 47.3 percent -- exactly how many were on target in Games 1-5.
Puck Drop: The core of Washington's team has plenty of experience in Game 7s, but there haven't been a lot of pleasant memories. The Capitals are 1-3 in Game 7s in the past four years, but all four of those contests were at home. Washington has won a Game 7 only twice in franchise history -- Sergei Fedorov scored late in the third period against the New York Rangers in 2009, while Hunter scored in overtime against Philadelphia in 1988.
Boston's core also has plenty of Game 7 experience, because the Bruins had to win three of them to claim the Stanley Cup last season. They defeated Montreal in overtime and Tampa Bay in a 1-0 game with a third-period goal at home, while they went to Vancouver and rolled through the Canucks at Rogers Arena in the Cup Final. Goaltender Tim Thomas allowed three goals in the three games, all against the Canadiens -- he shut out the Lightning and the Canucks in those series deciders.
"It means you've been there and know that you can win, especially as a group - it's largely the same group with a couple new additions and that's helpful," Thomas said of the experience of playing in Game 7s. "But at the same time, you have to go out and put in the work. You want to be the one that comes out on top in Game 7 -- you have to be the one that's willing to pay the price and is prepared to give everything you have that's left inside of you."