Even with rookie goalie Braden Holtby inspiring the Capitals through his confidence and swagger, Washington still find itself stuck in a major hole heading into Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in Boston on Saturday (3 p.m. ET, NBC, TSN).
"They'll be done in five if they lose Game 2," NBC Sports analyst Jeremy Roenick told NHL.com Friday.
Roenick said as impressed as he was with Holtby -- "He was better than any one of us expected him to be," were J.R.'s words -- he can't get over the fact that the Capitals let a huge opportunity slip out of their grasp Thursday at TD Garden.
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Holtby made 29 saves, but the Capitals put only 17 shots on Tim Thomas and lost 1-0 on Chris Kelly's overtime winner.
"They really did blow an opportunity," Roenick said. "You can't be a No. 7 seed going into the defending Stanley Cup champions' arena, have it be 0-0 into overtime, and not come out and win the game. I think they let a big one slip through their fingers. Now they have to play from behind and the Bruins have a lot of playoff savvy. I give Washington credit for the way they played, but they had to find a way to win that hockey game."
The key for the Capitals if they plan to win Game 2, according to Roenick, is to play the way they did in the third period of Game 1. After getting only seven shots on Boston in the first 40 minutes, the Caps took it to the Bruins in the third and peppered Thomas with nine shots.
Roenick said they were able to start opening up their game a bit because they had confidence in Holtby, who had 26 saves through two periods.
"That's a very good sign for Washington," Roenick said. "I think as a seven seed, you've got to take more chances for sure. I don't think anybody is picking them to win the series, so what do they have to lose? I would run it and gun it, to tell you the truth."
If the Caps are to run-and-gun, which hasn't exactly been their style under coach Dale Hunter, Alex Ovechkin will have to play more minutes. He was given only 17:34 of ice time in Game 1 -- not enough, according to Roenick.
"Not in this situation, no," he said. "In this situation, when you're in the first game of the playoffs, you have to expend all energies to your best player to get up in the first round. I think Alex wants to play, he wants to be on the ice. He's going to work hard for you. You win with your big guns right now, and Ovechkin has to get back to his 20 or 21 minutes or Washington is going to have trouble winning this series."
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl