First round action continued in Washington, D.C. as the Capitals hosted Game 4 against the Boston Bruins.
The Bruins were up in the series 2-1 after both teams split the opening two games in Boston and the Bruins took Game Three in D.C.
Early in the game, Alex Ovechkin jumped over Andrew Ference knocking the defenseman down on the ice combined with Zdeno Chara was completely out of the defensive position giving the Caps the odd-man rush.
Brooks Laich skated in the attacking zone and quickly passed the puck to Marcus Johansson who beat Tim Thomas with just 1:22 into the game.
Ovechkin lost an edge and that allowed Greg Campbell to get the puck to Rich Peverley who skated up on a two-on-one rush into the Washington zone. Just as he looked like he was going to pass it to a charging Campbell, he snapped the shot five-hole on Braden Holtby to tie the game at one apiece.
The Caps had a relatively poor period. While they did get the first goal on the first shot on goal, they only were able to muster three shots at the net.
Conversely, the Bruins were much more active in the Caps end having recorded 14 shots.
During their late power play, they lacked any speed or urgency and the fans seemed like they were letting them have it with a shower of boos.
The Bruins nearly gave the Caps the lead as there was a lazy play by Johnny Boychuk and Alexander Semin stole the puck to give it to Laich who was stoned by Thomas. While Thomas has not been too busy,there were some saves that he had to make to keep the B's into the game.
Holtby has been spectacular for the Caps as he was the only reason the Caps were in it up to that point.
Patrice Bergeron was called on a hooking penalty and Semin made the wrist shot high and glove high to regain the lead for the Caps with just 1:17 left of the period.
Despite the Bruins being short-handed three times, they still outshot the Caps 32-18 after 40 minutes of play.
Thomas made a spectacular toe save that may be a game saver as the Caps were trying to apply pressure.
Caps' Mike Knuble is called for holding and it took just over 50 minutes of play before the Bruins was on the man advantage for the first time in the game. They could not cash in on the opportunity.
The final minutes were the type that the Bruins wanted to forget as the puck was not settling or their passes were not connecting as the Caps took Game 4 and the series is now a best of three.
There was a clock mishap as it did not start after the puck drop until about 5 seconds later. Had the Bruins have scored before the final buzzer it would have been one of the most blown clock management in history as it would have most likely propelled them to OT.
The Bruins grossly out-shot the Caps with a final tally of 45-21.
The reason for the Caps success is their goalie. While the shots were close, the chances heavily favoured the Bruins and the young netminder was playing the game of his life.
Thomas also played well up to that point as he had to endure three power plays and the defensive breakdown on the Caps' first goal may have been the difference of the game.
The Caps can take this to Boston knowing that they won the game without their No. 1 center.
The Bruins can take this to home ice knowing that this series can go either way as every single game was within a goal.
The Caps need to pick up their play. If it wasn't for Holtby, this game's score would most likely have been heavily in favor of the Bruins and this would have went to Massachusetts with the Black and Gold having a 3-1 stranglehold in the series.
The Bruins have to limit their mistakes for it was their mistakes that could have very well cost them the game.
The absence of most of their top scorers is a concern. Tyler Seguin, Brad Marchand, Milan Lucic, and David Krejci, all 20+ goal scorers, have yet to register a single point.
Washington's Ovechkin (4 pts), Semin (2 pts) and Backstrom (2 pts) are the go-to players and have delivered for their team.
All two power play goals in the series are scored by the Caps. Both by Semin. If Boston wants to move on, they cannot bank on last year's success without the man advantage like they did against the Montreal Canadiens
Game Five will happen in Boston on Saturday on a 3 PM matinee.
For now it is a Two-All series and the first to two more wins gets to go on while the one to lose two will be yelling "FORE!"
This is Cory Ducey saying "Hit Hard, But Keep It Clean".