On April 25, 2012, the Caps faced the Bruins in Boston in a decisive Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series between the two teams. The Caps came away with a thrilling 2-1 victory in overtime courtesy of a pair of unlikely heroes.
Washington won Game 5 in Boston to nudge its way to a 3-2 series lead, but the Caps couldn’t close out the Bruins on home ice in Game 6. Tyler Seguin’s overtime goal in Game 6 gave Boston a 4-3 win and forced a deciding Game 7 in Beantown.
Midway through the first period, Caps winger Jason Chimera pushed the puck back to the right point from down near the goal line. Washington blueliner John Carlson floated a wrist shot toward the net, and left wing Matt Hendricks deflected it past Boston goaltender Tim Thomas to give Washington a 1-0 lead. The Bruins outshot the Caps 11-5 in the first frame.
Boston drew even late in the second when Seguin struck again, pouncing on a loose puck that was lying in the Capitals’ crease just behind goaltender Braden Holtby. The Bruins outshot the Caps 14-8 in the second period.
There was no scoring in the third, and the Caps held a 12-6 advantage in shots on goal in the final frame of regulation. The Caps had one power play opportunity in the third and the Bruins had two, including a golden chance to end the game and the series when Chimera was given a dubious holding call with just 2:26 remaining in regulation.
Just before the three-minute mark of overtime, the Bruins tried to dump the puck into the Washington end so they could get a line change. The puck hit Washington winger Mike Knuble in neutral ice, and he tore off down the left side on a 2-on-1 with fellow right-winger and right-handed shot Joel Ward. Knuble took a backhand shot, and Thomas made the save. But Ward was right there to collect the rebound, and his backhander found the back of the net to give the Caps the game and the series.
Down the stretch of the regular season, both Knuble and Ward had been healthy scratches. Knuble started the playoffs as a healthy scratch, getting into the lineup only when Nicklas Backstrom was suspended for Game 4. Ward played sparingly early in the playoffs, skating as little as 5:20 in Game 3.
For the crucial Game 7, Ward and Knuble were flanking right-handed pivot Keith Aucoin in an oddly cobbled line featuring three right-handed shots.