3 Keys: Capitals at Bruins, Game 4 of first round

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No. 2 Capitals at No. 3 Bruins

6:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN360, SNE, SNO, SNP, TVAS, NESN, NBCSWA

Boston leads best-of-7 series, 2-1

The Boston Bruins will try to extend their series lead in Game 4 against the Washington Capitals at TD Garden on Friday. 

All three games have been decided in overtime, including a 4-3 double overtime win for the Bruins on Wednesday that gave them the lead in the series. This series is the first to require overtime in each of the first three games since the 2018 Eastern Conference First Round between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Capitals. 

The Bruins and Capitals also extended the longest run of one-goal games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with each of their past 12 postseason games dating to Game 6 of the first round in 1998 decided by one goal.

“Especially nowadays, teams are so close,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Goals are at a premium. The details — we talk about it all the time — they tend to win games and lose games for you. Probably lose games more than win then, I guess, if you don’t take care of them.”

If Game 4 goes into overtime, it would mark the third time in NHL history that a series has gone into overtime in each of its first four or more games. The others are the 1951 Stanley Cup Final between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens and the 2012 Western Conference Quarterfinals between the Arizona Coyotes and Chicago Blackhawks. 

“It’s two really good teams,” Capitals defenseman Brenden Dillon said. “Not a lot really out there offensively. Just every shift, every little play, just the importance of it and just win one game. From Game 1 to now, Game 4, it’s just one game. Win your shift, win your battle and just set the line up for success the next shift.”

When leading 2-1, Boston is 23-10 (.697) all-time winning a best-of-7 series. When trailing 2-1, Washington is 8-9 (.471) all-time winning a best-of-7 series. 

Here are 3 keys for Game 3:

 

1. Capitals getting healthier

Through the first three games of the series, the Capitals have not been able to put their full team on the ice. But they’re getting closer. 

Ilya Samsonov, Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie all played in Game 3, and the Capitals could get center Lars Eller and goalie Craig Anderson back for Game 4. Goalie Vitek Vanecek remains out with a lower-body injury, and defenseman Michal Kempny is out with an Achilles tendon injury. Oshie did not skate Friday, but he also did not skate on Wednesday and played in the game. 

“There’s always stuff going on,” Laviolette said. “But the fact that Lars has been on the ice for a couple days, I always feel like that’s a good thing. Kempny’s on the ice again. So that’s a good thing. You start to get healthy. But the key is staying that way as well.”

 

2. Capitals power play

The Capitals are 2-for-10 on the power play in the series after going 1-for-5 in Game 3. Alex Ovechkin and Oshie have scored power-play goals for Washington.

Cassidy was clear that he was not happy with some of the penalties the Bruins took in Game 3, including a too many men on the ice call in the first period. He doesn’t want the Bruins to give too many chances to a Capitals power play that scored 24.8 percent of the time in the regular season, third best in the NHL.

“I think the PK has been solid,” Cassidy said. “We went through that debate like every team does against Washington — what do you want to give up? Is it the [Alex] Ovechkin shot? Is it Oshie in the bumper? Is it that backdoor [Nicklas] Backstrom to whoever the net front is — might be [Anthony] Mantha, might be Kuznetsov — or is it [John] Carlson shooting from the top? They have good weapons.”

 

3. More from Pastrnak

David Pastrnak was more active in Game 3, getting nine shots on goal while playing 25:48. But the right wing did not score, after having one assist in each of the first two games, and the Bruins need more from him as they go further into the series, even though he leads all skaters with 19 shots on goal in three games. 

Pastrnak is the team’s best goal scorer, having tied for the NHL lead with Ovechkin in 2019-20 with 48 goals. He scored 48 points (20 goals, 28 assists) in 48 games this season, while going through long scoring droughts. 

He also had a scary moment in Game 3, going hard into the boards in the second overtime, but Cassidy confirmed Friday that Pastrnak was ready to play in Game 4.

 

Capitals projected lineup

Alex Ovechkin — Evgeny Kuznetsov — Tom Wilson

Anthony ManthaNicklas Backstrom — T.J. Oshie

Conor ShearyMichael RafflDaniel Carr

Carl HagelinNic DowdGarnet Hathaway

Dmitry OrlovJohn Carlson

Brenden Dillon — Justin Schultz

Nick JensenZdeno Chara

Ilya Samsonov

Pheonix Copley

Scratched: Craig Anderson, Philippe Maillet, Garrett Pilon, Martin Fehervary, Trevor van Riemsdyk, Daniel Sprong

Injured: Vitek Vanecek (lower body), Lars Eller (lower body)

 

Bruins projected lineup

Brad MarchandPatrice Bergeron — David Pastrnak

Taylor HallDavid KrejciCraig Smith

Nick RitchieCharlie CoyleJake DeBrusk

Sean KuralyCurtis LazarChris Wagner

Matt GrzelcykCharlie McAvoy

Mike ReillyBrandon Carlo

Connor CliftonKevan Miller

Tuukka Rask

Jeremy Swayman

Scratched: Anton Blidh, Trent Frederic, Karson Kuhlman, Greg McKegg, Oskar Steen, Jack Studnicka, Urho Vaakanainen, Jack Ahcan, Steven Kampfer, Jarred Tinordi, Callum Booth, Jaroslav Halak, Dan Vladar

Injured: Ondrej Kase (upper body), Jakub Zboril (upper body), Jeremy Lauzon (upper body)

 

Status report

Eller participated in the morning skate Friday; the center missed Game 3 after being injured in Game 2. … Oshie did not skate Friday but played in Game 3 after not skating Wednesday morning. … Anderson, a goalie who started Game 2 and was scratched for “body maintenance” for Game 3, is available for Game 4, Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said. … The Bruins will dress the same 18 skaters they used in Game 3. … Rask will make his fourth straight start. … Miller (maintenance) didn’t skate but is expected to play.

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