Bruins Advance to 2nd Round with Game 5 Win over Alex Ovechkin, Capitals

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVMay 24, 2021

Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron (37) celebrates his goal with the bench during the second period in Game 5 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series against the Washington Capitals, Sunday, May 23, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
AP Photo/Nick Wass

The Boston Bruins reeled off their fourth straight win over the Washington Capitals, beating the Caps 3-1 on Sunday to advance out of the first round in the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Following a scoreless opening period, David Pastrnak drew first blood for the Bruins with 2:28 off the clock in the second frame. While Mike Reilly was credited with the assist, the goal was largely the result of brilliant individual play by Pastrnak.

NHL on NBC Sports @NHLonNBCSports

PLEASE ENJOY THIS DAVID PASTRNAK HIGHLIGHT. 👀#NHLBruins | #StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/SNahDcTDow


.@pastrnak96 really just did that 🤯🤯 #StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/mptJxAn6GQ

Patrice Bergeron doubled Boston's advantage with 5:55 left in the period.

Conor Sheary provided a much-needed jolt to the Caps in the third period. He waited just 11 seconds before making it a 2-1 game, pouncing on the rebound from his own effort on Tuukka Rask.

NHL on NBC Sports @NHLonNBCSports

11 SECONDS!<br><br>It's a one-goal game. #ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/TTreGWtV41

Bergeron took the wind out of Washington's sails with his second goal. It looked like Lars Eller got another back for the Capitals, but the referees wiped out the goal due to goalie interference on Evgeny Kuznetsov.

Tarik El-Bashir @Tarik_ElBashir

I'm still trying to wrap my head around what Kuznetsov was doing there. Unreal. #Caps

This is Washington's third first-round exit in a row after lifting the Stanley Cup for the first time in 2018. With Alex Ovechkin set to become a free agent, this could be a pivotal offseason for the franchise.

Notable Performers

Tuukka Rask, G, Bruins: 40 saves, .976 save percentage

David Pastrnak, RW, Bruins: one goal, one assist, three shots

Patrice Bergeron, C, Bruins: two goals, four shots

Conor Sheary, LW, Capitals: one goal, three shots, one blocked shot

Efficiency Trumps Volume for Bruins

Not all shots on goal count the same.

If you weren't aware of the score, you probably would've expected the Capitals to have sailed through comfortably in Game 5. Washington owned a firm 41-19 edge in shots.

Sheary's goal aside, Rask delivered between the pipes for the Bruins.

Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL

Eller sets up Sheary for Capitals' best scoring chance so far to right of the net, but Rask is there waiting for him to make the save.

MurphysLaw74 @MurphysLaw74

Let's make this abundantly clear to all the delusional Tuukka Rask doubters:<br><br>The Boston Bruins do not enter the third period up 2-0 if not for Rask. Period. End. Of. Story. <br><br>It is now up to his teammates to hold on and win this game. @BOSHockeyNow

This was also a strong collective effort from Boston's defense. For much of the game, Washington was reduced to taking shots with a low percentage of finding the net.

Ted Starkey @TedStarkey

Washington is taking shots from far out with no traffic on Rask. Doesn’t seem to be ideal.

Coming from behind to take Game 3 turned this series irretrievably in the Bruins' favor. They dominated Washington in Game 4 and were in firm control for the vast majority of Game 5.

Washington started to look a little more threatening after Sheary's opener, yet was unable to capitalize. Boston didn't panic and eventually responded through Bergeron to put the final touches on a dominant performance.

Ovechkin Era Potentially Ends with a Whimper 

The Capitals weren't the favorites to win the Stanley Cup this year in no small part because neither of their top two goaltenders had logged a playoff appearance entering the postseason. Craig Anderson, meanwhile, played in just four games during the regular season.

The 11 goals surrendered by Washington over the previous three games underscored what was clearly the team's biggest weakness. Bergeron's first goal came on a shot you'd expect a veteran netminder to stop.

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BERGERON! 🚨<br><br>The #NHLBruins extend their lead. #StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/1aCKWDlBFs

Matt Porter @mattyports

Caps outshot Bruins 11-1 between the Pastrnak and Bergeron goals. A backbreaker by Samsonov. Bergeron beat him clean from 44 feet out.

Considering what hangs over the Capitals this summer, the sting of Sunday's loss will be felt even more. Nothing will totally erase what the 2018 triumph meant, but to witness what has transpired since then has to be somewhat deflating for the fanbase.

JP Finlay @JPFinlayNBCS

You know how the end of a gangster movie comes kinda out of nowhere - a couple minor things go wrong and then everything is awful? I really hope that’s not what I’m watching with the Caps

You never want to see a franchise legend leave, but allowing Ovechkin to leave might be the only way for Washington to embrace the transition it sorely needs. There's only so much the front office can do to revitalize a roster that's already projected to carry a $77.3 million cap hit in 2021-22.

The players' lackluster effort Sunday was particularly damning.

Joe Haggerty @HackswithHaggs

Thoughts through 40 minutes: <br>*Pastrnak isnt heating up. He's on fire. Be very afraid, rest of the NHL. <br>*Charlie McAvoy w/6 blocked shots in 16 minutes. This after 3 assists in Game 4. What a stud <br>*Tuukka Rask quietly brilliant in this series<br>*Capitals look ready for tee times

Ovechkin has been the face of the franchise and a reference point for the Capitals for 16 years. It might be time to start over.

What's Next?

Boston awaits the winner of the other East division playoff series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders. The teams are tied at two games apiece.