– While the Bruins peppered rookie goaltender Braden Holtby, the Washington Capitals weaved patiently through the offensive zone, waiting to find a hole on goaltender Tim Thomas
That goal never came, but the Capitals challenged and matched the Bruins physical style of play without any hesitation.
So when Bruins forward Chris Kelly
scored the game-winning goal 1:18 in overtime to give the B’s a 1-0 victory in Game 1, he ended the heavyweight battle that at one point seemed endless.
“We were obviously very relieved,” Bruins forward Brad Marchand
said. “In overtime, anything can happen. Usually it’s a pretty lucky goal, and anyone can get that bounce so we were happy it was us.
“It was really tough, [Washington] really came to play and it was tough to keep the tempo up. They were playing very physical, very fast hockey and it was tough to keep up with them.”
The Bruins out-shot the Capitals 26-7 through two periods, and finished with a 30-17 advantage.
But the Holtby, who made his first playoff start, held strong in net while the Capitals tried to meticulously execute their offense.
“In playoffs you got a young guy come up like that, there’s not really a lot of pressure on him so they usually play very well,” Marchand said of Holtby. “He did that tonight, he made a lot of big saves at the right times and you got to give him credit.
“It’s a little frustrating when you get that many shots and opportunities and they don’t go in. But, the only one that matters is who gets that last one and we got it.”
From the second the puck dropped, the battles formed early and often. Marchand got tangled up with Mike Green 41 seconds into the game, but the most-anticipated matchup was between Bruins captain Zdeno Chara
and Alex Ovechkin.
Chara effectively shut down Ovechkin, who had just one shot on net the entire game, but the matchup quickly shifted between No. 8 and Dennis Seidenberg
. The two hit each other often, highlighted by a collision at center ice that sent both men to the ice.
“That’s what playoffs is all about – creating battles and enemies,” Marchand said. “The way Seides and Zee played against that line tonight and [Ovechkin] especially, was great for us and we’re going to need that if we’re going to keep up with them.
“Seides battled all night long, made a few big hits and took a couple of hits and that’s what we needed from him. I was very happy [with the hit at center ice]. You build some momentum off that, and that’s Seides’ game. He’s a very physical guy and he definitely let [Ovechkin] know.”
Undoubtedly, the win was going to be big no matter which team came on top. But there’s still a whole series left, and Marchand made it clear the team doesn’t plan on getting complacent.
“Yeah, we’re happy,” Marchand said. “It’s a little bit of a relief to get that first one under the belt – you get the nerves out, the jitters.
"We’re not satisfied with one game, we have to improve and continue to get better.”