Stanley Cup Playoffs 2012: Washington Capitals vs. Boston Bruins Game 5 Recap
Equal parts exhilaration and frustration, Game 5 was filled with dramatic momentum shifts, adrenaline-fueled-end-to-end action, the highest of highs followed by the lowest of lows and enough memorable moments for two games.
It was a game that saw a team finally take a two-goal lead—only to watch it vanish almost immediately.
It was a game that saw Tim Thomas not only look human, but also look very average.
It was a game that saw the Bruins power play finally find pay dirt.
When the dust settled, however, Game 5 was a game the Caps won on a very late goal to push the defending Stanley Cup champions to the brink of elimination.
How did we get here? How did we get to the point where the Caps can eliminate the Bruins on Sunday, in Game 6, in Washington DC?
Lets take a look at eight memorable moments from the gem that was Game 5.
1. The Caps Weather the Early Storm
Daniel Paille hits the post on a first-period breakaway
The Capitals had to know the Bruins would come after them with everything they had in the early goings—and the Bruins did not disappoint.
The Capitals did a great job of counterattacking but they were extremely lucky to get out of the first period with no goals having been scored on them.
Better to be lucky than good? Perhaps.
In reality, the Caps were a little bit of both but the lucky part is what helped them to weather the Bruins early storm.
The first very lucky play came about three and a half minutes into the game. The Bruins were on the power play and Zdeno Chara blasted a one-timer from the right faceoff circle that clanged loudly off the crossbar.
The second lucky play happened about 10 minutes later. A bad turnover by the Caps allowed Daniel Paille to come in on a breakaway.
Paille beat Braden Holtby—but he could not beat the right post, which rejected his shot and kept the game scoreless.
With some excellent defense, and some very good luck, the Capitals kept the Bruins off the scoreboard in the first period and kept the Bruins faithful at TD Gardens very quiet.
By weathering this early storm, the Caps kept themselves right in the thick of Game 5.
2. Did Zdeno Chara Take a Dive?
Make up your own mind but Chara may have taken a dive here
With about 30 seconds left in the first period, Zdeno Chara rode Jason Chimera into the boards behind the Boston net. The two were wrapped up with each other and as they were both trying to get up, they became even more entangled.
Suddenly, Chimera swings around and does his best Jon Jones imitation as he nails Chara in the head with an elbow. Chara then ends up face down on the ice for several moments. The announcers on NBC comment that you hardly ever see Zdeno Chara lying face down on the ice.
As the period ends, the cameras pick up Chara having a, shall we say, animated conversation with Chimera.
Oh, it's on like Donkey Kong now.
But perhaps not. After the game, I started to hear people say that Chara might have tried to take a dive here.
There is no question that Chimera elbows Chara in the head.
But watch the video and look at what happens with about 12 seconds left in the period. Chara gets up and stands right next to Chimera. He does not shove him, or say anything to him.
Now, I am not saying Chara was just trying to draw a penalty here, but it sure seemed that way.
Regardless, the anticipated war between Chara and Chimera never materialized.
An intriguing moment in Game 5 to be sure.
3. The Capitals Grab a 2-Goal Lead
Jay Beagle gives the Caps a 2-0 lead
For the longest time, Game 5 felt a lot like Game 1 or Game 2 and many had to wonder if, or when, that elusive first goal would come.
With about eight and a half minutes left, the Caps would take a 1-0 lead on a great goal by Alex Semin, who is clearly having the best playoff series of his young career.
About three minutes later, Jay Beagle would make a great play to keep the puck in the offensive zone and would then come in and wrist a wicked, albeit deflected, shot past Tim Thomas to put the Caps ahead 2-0.
It was the first time in the entire series that either team had led by more than one goal.
Although the Beagle goal was deflected, Bruins fans had to be a bit concerned about Thomas as it sure looks like that was one he could have saved.
All Beagle's goal did, however, was release the hounds of excitement as it was at this point that Game 5 got really good.
4. The Sleeping Giant Awakens
Brad Marchand ties the game at 2-2
The Caps had a commanding two-goal lead and seemed in complete control of the game.
That all changed on a great snap shot by Dennis Seidenberg that brought the Bruins to within a goal.
The announcement of Seidenberg's goal was still taking place when Brad Marchand banged home a loose puck after Johnny Boychuk's shot was not controlled by Braden Holtby.
In just 28 seconds, the defending champions showed the heart that they had left, erased a two-goal deficit and took complete control of the game.
To me, this was one of two critical points in the game where the Bruins could have taken command.
After Marchand's goal, the Bruins were all over the Caps. The TD Garden was a madhouse and Braden Holtby looked shaken.
For Caps fans, the end of the second period could not come fast enough.
Somehow, the Caps weathered this new storm and got to the second intermission with a 2-2 tie.
In my opinion, that was a big missed opportunity for the Bruins, although being tied entering the third period was certainly better than trailing by two.
The stage was now set for the most dramatic period of the series so far.
5. An Old Warrior Makes His Presence Felt
Mike Knuble puts the Caps back on top
When this series started, I really felt that if the Caps were to have a chance at winning, they would have to find some scoring from their third or fourth lines.
I did not believe that scoring would come from Mike Knuble.
But that is exactly who came through in a big way in Game 5.
With about three and a half minutes having been played in the third period, Joel Ward put a pretty soft shot in on Tim Thomas.
Inexplicably, Thomas did not control the rebound at all and the puck ended up on the stick of former Bruin, Mike Knuble, who calmly put the puck past Thomas and put the Capitals back on top 3-2.
Knuble has not had the greatest season ever, but he is still a leader and a tremendous wealth of playoff experience for the Caps.
Knuble's goal destroyed whatever momentum the Bruins were trying to carry over from the second period and the Caps could smell victory.
What they were really smelling, however, was the scent of even more drama heading their way.
6. Holtby Robs Seguin
Another amazing save by Braden Holtby
Braden Holtby has made some remarkable saves in this series but the one he made on Tyler Seguin about a minute after Knuble gave the Caps a 3-2 lead might very well have been his best of all of them.
Holtby did a full split to stop Seguin from point-blank range and kept the Caps in front for a while longer.
Even though the Bruins would eventually get the equalizer, it would not come for a few more minutes and the time the Bruins lost would be critical to the ultimate outcome of this game.
If there was any doubt as to who the MVP of this series has been for the Caps, so far, Holtby pretty much erased them with this amazing denial of Seguin.
7. The Bruins Power Play Finally Connects
Johnny Boychuk ties the game at 3-3
The Bruins power play has been awful in this series. This, of course, is nothing new to the Bruins, who overcame a dreadful power play during their Stanley Cup-winning run last year.
With the B's desperately needing a tying goal, and with them on a power play almost halfway through the third period, Boston finally came through.
Dennis Seidenburg, who has had a very solid series for Boston, fed Johnny Boychuk just inside the blue line. Boychuk hammered a shot over the glove hand of Braden Holtby and with about 11 minutes remaining in Game 5, we were all tied at 3-3.
Once again the Bruins had momentum and had everything going their way.
This is the second point of the game where Caps fans braced for the worst. The Bruins, feeding off the energy of the crowd, and getting a nice recharge from the adrenaline meter, pressed the issue. Holtby looked a bit shaky at this point and it seemed to be just a matter of time before the Bruins took the lead.
It never happened.
8. Brouwer Pushes the Bruins to the Brink
Troy Brouwer scores the game winner for the Caps
Game 5, just like the first two games in Boston, seemed destined to head to overtime.
With time running down though, Benoit Pouliot got called for slashing Nicklas Backstrom, putting the Caps on the power play. It was a controversial penalty call to be sure. Replays showed Pouliot actually slashing Backstrom twice but the refs could have very easily not called a penalty at that stage in the game.
With the Capitals on the power play, John Carlson came up the ice and found a wide open Troy Brouwer streaking down the right wing.
I have watched the play numerous times and I am still not sure how the B's allowed Brouwer to get that wide open.
Brouwer then fired a wrist shot from the top of the faceoff circle that looked pretty ordinary.
Inexplicably, Tim Thomas missed the puck and Brouwer's very late power-play goal gave the Caps a 4-3 lead.
The Bruins tried mightily to get the equalizer but could not and the Caps left Boston with a 3-2 series lead and a chance to ice the defending champs in DC on Sunday.
Brouwer's goal was the final memorable moment in a game overflowing with them.
As the scene shifts to the nation's capital, and the Caps have a chance to pull off a pretty big upset on home ice, one has to wonder how much drama we will see in Game 6—and can Caps or Bruins fans' hearts handle it.