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Bruins Down Alex Ovechkin, Capitals in Game 4 to Take Commanding 3-1 Series Lead

Blake SchusterContributor IMay 22, 2021

Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Boston Bruins took a commanding 3-1 series lead over the Washington Capitals with a 4-1 Game 4 victory Friday at TD Garden, pushing the 2018 Stanley Cup champions to the brink of first-round elimination.

Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy led the way for Boston, combing for four points as the Bruins rattled off their third consecutive victory since dropping the series opener six days ago. The first three games of the series each required overtime to decide the winner with Game 3 going to double-overtime before Craig Smith netted the game-winner. Game 4 was the first to end in regulation. 

Boston and Washington may have tied their season series at four games apiece, but the playoff edition has seen the Bruins surge ahead by the slimmest of margins. 

They'll have the chance to advance past their division rival in Game 5 on Sunday. 

Notable Performers

Charlie McAvoy, D, Boston Bruins: 3 Assists, 2 Shots on Goal, 1 Blocked Shot

David Pastrnak, RW, Boston Bruins: 1 Goal, 1 Assist

Alex Ovechkin, LW, Washington Capitals: 1 Goal, 4 Shots on Goal, 6 Hits

John Carlson, D, Washington Capitals: 1 Assist, 1 Shot On Goal, 3 Blocked Shots

NHL @NHL

Pasta order up. #StanleyCup<br><br>🇺🇸: https://t.co/kRGgjvqN6n @NHLonNBCSports<br>🇨🇦: https://t.co/uiTXVTGz3h @Sportsnet pic.twitter.com/pvKJrSZbt8

Bruins Breakthrough After Miller Injury

It took a span of barely three minutes in the middle of the second period for the Bruins to shock the Caps and seize control of Game 4. 

In that amount of time Boston stunned Washington goalie Ilya Samsonsov, lost Kevan Miller to an injury and converted on the ensuing power play with ease. It was a study in how quickly things could go wrong for the Caps—and how easily the Bruins could capitalize. 

Boston Bruins @NHLBruins

Making it count.#NHLBruins | @Bmarch63 pic.twitter.com/juGeSf2G4T

The series of events began with Boston’s Taylor Hall driving in on Samsonov only to miss out on a goal while his skate caught the part of the goalie’s thigh that wasn’t covered by a pad as Samsonov stretched across the crease. The pain was instantly recognizable as Samsonov doubled over before the referees stopped play. 

After taking a few laps around the net, Samsonov decided to stay in the game. Miller wouldn’t be as fortunate. 

Amalie Benjamin @AmalieBenjamin

Bruins announce that Kevan Miller won't return to the game. He was taken to the hospital for "scans and further evaluation."

As play resumed, the Boston forward took a late hit from defenseman Dmitry Orlov and crumpled to the ice. Bruins star Charlie Coyle went after Orlov almost immediately, and though Orlov was initially assessed a five-minute major penalty, it was eventually reduced to a double-minor for roughing. 

The ensuing Bruins power play broke the open the scoring as Brad Marchand redirected a Charlie McAvoy wrist shot past a still dazed Samsonov. 

Boston would go on to score two goals in 34 seconds early in third period but it was midway through the second frame where the game shifted in the Bruins' favor. If Washington is unable to mount a comeback, it can point to that series of events where it lost control of the first round. 

NHL @NHL

Two goals 34 seconds apart for the @NHLBruins! #StanleyCup<br><br>🇺🇸: https://t.co/ilCNHb1Arx @NHLonNBCSports <br>🇨🇦: https://t.co/BT7CNkgzyF @Sportsnet pic.twitter.com/3XFvrNcCV5

Caps' Offense Goes Cold

After hammering the Bruins' net with 37 shots in Game 3, 39 shots in Game 2 and 32 shots in Game 1, the Washington offense was nearly non-existent on Friday night. 

If it can't rediscover it before Game 5, the series may be over—along with the Caps' quest for another Stanley Cup. 

Washington mustered just 20 shots on goal to Boston's 37 in Game 4, but only registered 15 before the 10-minute mark of the third period. More troubling is that through the Caps' first three power play opportunities Friday, they put just two shots on net and hardly came close to converting on either of them. 

Washington Capitals @Capitals

The Captain gets one back pic.twitter.com/OEL9ar3Qlp

It was an ugly way to watch the fifth-best offense in the regular season (3.36 goals per game) inch closer to elimination. 

Captain Alexander Ovechkin did his best to stem the Bruins' onslaught with a power play goal to make it 3-1, Boston, with 15 minutes left in regulation, but it mattered little outside of the stat sheet. Boston remained in full control from the second period on as the Capitals continued to struggle 200 feet away from their own net. 

CapitalsPR @CapitalsPR

Alex Ovechkin scores on the power play to cut the deficit to two goals. It marks Ovechkin's 71st career playoff goal, passing Steve Yzerman and tying Bryan Trottier for the 16th-most playoff goals in NHL history.

The majority of Washington's shot attempts came from the right side of the ice despite the fact Ovechkin's goal came from his typical spot on the left side of the ice. If the Caps made a concerted effort to target Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask from one spot, it didn't work. If not, the Caps' offense has more issues than just one bad performance. 

What's Next

Game 5 is slated for Sunday, May 23 at 7 p.m. ET on USA Network. 

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