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Bruins vs Capitals - 2012 Stanley Cup Conference Quarterfinals

For Pouliot, one year's time makes a huge difference

Ben Raby - Correspondent

Benoit Pouliot
Left Wing - BOS
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 1 | PTS: 2
SOG: 1 | +/-: 1

WASHINGTON -- Benoit Pouliot was in street clothes, shuffling between the press box and the visiting team's dressing room at Boston's TD Garden. His teammates at the time were living the childhood dream -- skating in overtime of Game 7 of a Stanley Cup Playoff game.

Pouliot can't recall the details of how the game finished -- he just remembers hearing and feeling TD Garden erupt. Nathan Horton beat Carey Price at 5:43 of the first overtime, as the Boston Bruins advanced to the 2011 Eastern Conference Semifinals and the Montreal Canadiens returned home for the summer.

Pouliot was a healthy scratch that night for Montreal, for the fourth straight Stanley Cup Playoff game. Days later he would pack his Canadiens gear one final time, slated to become an unrestricted free agent two months later. The Bruins, meanwhile, went on to win the Stanley Cup.

Matchups could determine if Bruins-Caps opens up

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

"You get the last change, so you get a little more [control]. With Chara, it is easy to change a D. If you lose the draw, you can still change. It is one of those things that [Ovechkin] is battling through it and playing hard, and that is what we need from him." -- Capitals coach Dale Hunter

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Game 2 of this Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series between the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals looked a lot like Game 1, both in style of play and tactics from both sides.

Now that the series has shifted from TD Garden to Verizon Center, will Game 3 on Monday night be any different?

"Seeing two games that were almost identical -- it is pretty tough to do it for a third time," Washington defenseman Karl Alzner said. "Those games were tight-checking, a lot of hits, and the crowd was pretty hostile. I think the chances of us seeing a third one in a row like that are pretty slim. It will probably be a little more wide-open and teams will figure it out a little more offensively. We're happy with the way that went and another game like that would be just great for us."

B's desperate for scoring as series heads to D.C.

Matt Kalman - Correspondent

BOSTON -- Tyler Seguin's debut in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs thrust him from an understudy role to a starring part with three goals in two games against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final.

Seguin's start to his first NHL postseason as a team focal point after leading the Boston Bruins in goals and points as a second-year pro during the regular season has seen him recast as a bit player by a suffocating Washington defense and outstanding goaltending from Braden Holtby through two games of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

Seguin is not alone among the Bruins' struggling top-six forwards. Boston has scored just two goals so far, and both came from third-line forwards Chris Kelly and Benoit Pouliot. It'd be easier for the Bruins to stomach their lack of production if their chances were all Grade-A. Instead they haven't been able to generate anything off the rush and most of their shots have come from the perimeter with Holtby able to see them as clear as a 747 rolling down the runway.

That's something Seguin hopes to change as the series continues.

Capitals' Green is returning to defensive form

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Mike Green hadn't played more than 33 minutes in a game for nearly 365 days, yet he said he felt better in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Series between his Washington Capitals and the Boston Bruins than he had in maybe twice that long.

It has been a struggle for Green to stay on the ice the past two seasons because of an assortment of injuries. When he's been healthy, it hasn't been easy to find his old, world-class form.

He has been a consistent presence for the Capitals in the first two games of this series, and there have been signs that Green might be closer to finding normalcy again.

"I think it's just, you know, my body and the state of mind I'm in," Green said. "I think kind of over the last couple of years it has been tough with the injuries and what not, but I finally feel good. Not only that, I think it is all about feel. I have a good feel, and I don't know how to explain it."

Green logged 33:28 of ice time in Washington's 2-1 victory in double overtime Saturday at TD Garden to level the series. His previous high during the 2011-12 campaign was 26:01 on Mar. 22 against Philadelphia -- a total that used to just be a typical night for him.

Holtby is making believers out of the Capitals

Ben Raby - Correspondent

WASHINGTON -- The heavily-favored Washington Capitals saw firsthand in their 2010 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Montreal Canadiens the impact that an unproven goalie can make on the big stage.

The Canadiens rallied from a 3-1 series deficit and won the final three games of the series behind then-24-year-old Jaroslav Halak, who stymied the Caps and stopped 140 of 143 shots in Games 5, 6 and 7.

Two years later, the unproven goalie and the role of the underdog are both on the Capitals' side. Braden Holtby, 22, turned aside 72 of 74 shots in Games 1 and 2 of Washington's first round series against the Boston Bruins, allowing the Caps to return home with the series tied at a game apiece.

"Obviously there's a lot of talk of the first two games, with low-scoring, especially with goaltending," Holtby said. "My game really didn't change too much. It was basically the way we played, the way the game was played as a whole as to why I was successful. I want to work on some things; I want to be better and to get better throughout the series. Right now all the focus is on Game 3."

Game 3 is Monday at Verizon Center (7:30 p.m., ET, NBCSN, CBC) where Holtby will make his fourth straight start dating back to the regular-season finale. Holtby has started four straight NHL games just once before in his career (March 9-15, 2011).

Kelly key component of Bruins' secondary success

Matt Kalman - Correspondent

BOSTON – A little more than halfway through his first season as part-owner of the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League, Dale Hunter traded Chris Kelly.

As Kelly now recalls about the 2001 trade from London to Sudbury, the deal landed him in a decidedly colder city to finish out his junior career. However, the affable Boston Bruins center isn't one to hold a grudge about that trade.

So, Kelly says, the overtime goal he scored in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals to beat Hunter's Washington Capitals on Thursday wasn't any sort of payback.

Horton shut down for season due to concussion

Matt Kalman - Correspondent

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Feelings of both disappointment and concern emanated from the Boston Bruins' dressing room at Ristuccia Arena after practice Wednesday.

While the team practiced for a third straight day in advance of the Thursday start of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series with Washington, general manager Peter Chiarelli explained that forward Nathan Horton has been shut down for the remainder of the season because of a concussion.

Horton has been out of the lineup since a hit Jan. 22 from Philadelphia's Tom Sestito. Horton scored two Game 7 series-winning goals (one in overtime), and added a second overtime winner, during the Bruins' run to the Stanley Cup championship last season.

Caps express faith in Holtby ahead of Game 1 start

Ben Raby - Correspondent

ARLINGTON, Va. -- When Washington Capitals general manager George McPhee signed free agent goalie Tomas Vokoun last summer, the Caps were thought to have found the goalie who would lead them on a deep playoff run.

And if for whatever reason Vokoun could not start the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Caps had a perfectly capable backup in Michal Neuvirth, who started all nine of their playoff games a year ago.

But when the Capitals took the ice Monday for their first practice ahead of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins, they did so with the goaltending tandem of Braden Holtby and Dany Sabourin.

Vokoun remains sidelined with a groin injury while Neuvirth continues to recover from a lower-body injury. There is no timetable for either goalie's return, although Neuvirth appears closer.

Between them, Holtby and Sabourin have a combined 14 minutes of NHL playoff experience (Sabourin played those minutes in relief of Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo in 2007). At the other end of the ice, the Capitals will face the reigning Vezina and Conn Smythe Trophy winner in Tim Thomas.

Chiarelli feels Cup experience will help B's

Matt Kalman - Correspondent

BOSTON -- Entering the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs as the defending champions, the Boston Bruins definitely are more confident and experienced.

Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli even alluded to the notion Sunday that the 2012 edition of his club might even be more talented. However, he's not about to guarantee a repeat of last June's Stanley Cup celebration with the Bruins' postseason set to start in four days.

"I feel good about our team," Chiarelli said during a 20-minute conference call Sunday. "I think we have more skill because I think our skill has matured from last year. It's so tight. I mean, you've got to get some luck along the way. But I think we've got as good a chance as any to come out of the East. And we're facing a pretty formidable foe to start. We haven't matched up well against Washington. And we kind of caught them when we were in a bit of a downswing each time, it seems. So it's going to be a good test to start."

Why Boston will win the Cup

Shawn P. Roarke - Senior Managing Editor

Since 1998, the Detroit Red Wings have proudly claimed to be the last team to win the Stanley Cup in back-to-back seasons. In 2012, the Boston Bruins will steal those bragging rights from the Red Wings.

The Big Why: The core of the Boston team that claimed the 2011 Stanley Cup in such stunning fashion remains the same.

Goalie Tim Thomas, the backbone of the championship, is still the main man in the crease. Zdeno Chara, the captain and the anchor on the blue line, may have actually had a better season then the one he put together during the 2010-11 regular season. Plus, Boston's fleet of clutch scorers and physical tone-setters is back for more of the grinding, low-scoring hockey that is tailor-made for their skill set.

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