Hockey Mom was in the press box as the Capitals met the Boston Bruins today in the last regular season home game for the guys in the red sweaters. The fans (the focus of Fan Appreciation Week) were mush more spirited than usual in anticipation of the playoffs. Slap Shot is also rocking a new red do just in time for the playoffs - he looks a bit like a cardinal instead of an eagle, but don't tell him I said so! After clenching their spot with a win yesterday (which included three short-handed goals on one penalty kill) the Bruins decided to sit some of their key role players, including the hulking Zdeno Chara. Their hot-handed goaltender, Tuukka Rask, also got a rest from the action and the Bs went with Tim Thomas, Eric Fehr and Tomas Fleischmann sat this one out for the home team, in addition to John Erskine, Quintin Laing and Tyler Sloan. But you can bet today's Washington Post's cover boy, Alex Ovechkin, was raring to go in hot pursuit of the scoring title. Young Steven Stamkos became the third youngest player to ever reach 50 goals and is giving Ovechkin a run for his money.
The Capitals started this one on the right foot as Alex Semin blasted a wide angle shot right past the left glove of Thomas. Shortly thereafter, the situation on the ice turned to complete chaos. As Jason Chimera went in deep to the net for the puck and got mauled by the net minder. Both teams went at it and after the dust cleared, Thomas was charged with roughing and Chimera took a seat for goaltender interference. The Bruins tallied on a power play goal from Michael Ryder to tie it up. The animosity from the melee was far from over, as the officials sent Chimera to the sin bin again for a ten-minute misconduct (for jabbering with a Bruins player for crying out loud). A total Pee Wee hockey call there ref, just my opinion. Later in the period, Ovi was called for a high stick and Michael Ryder scored his second goal of the period with five minutes to go. No worries Caps fans, as the boys evened it up seconds later with a spectacular goal from Eric Berlanger, who shot the puck as he was falling to the ice! End of first period: Capitals 2 - Bruins 2
Ovi opened up the second period by taking several successive blistering shots at the Bruins' net but Thomas stood tall and did not allow the Great8 to breach his net in the opening minutes. The Caps went on the penalty kill once again when John Carlson was whistled for hooking The penalty killers shut down the guys from Beantown and Carlson had a nice little scoring chance as he exited the box. The chippy Jason Chimera took his third seat of the day for cross-checking one of the visitors. Despite big boy Milan Lucic's attempts to screen Varlamov on the Bruins power play, the Caps' PK unit once again took care of business. It was the Capitals' turn to enjoy a man-advantage at 14:37 when Dennis Wideman was called for interference. Alex Semin appeared to have gotten dinged pretty hard when he was hit with a shot but remained on the bench. The boys were unable to tally on the power play and the score remained tied at the end of the period. End of the second period: Capitals 2 - Bruins 2
The opening minutes of the third period saw some outstanding defensive performances from Joe Corvo and John Carlson as the Bruins buzzed around Semyon Varlamov. At 9:59 mark, the Capitals gained the lead as Mike Green blasted a wicked shot from the blue line and Mike Knuble directed it into the Bruins' net. And of course then it was time to "Unleash the Fury" - the red-clad fans went absolutely bonkers!
The Bruins weren't done for the afternoon though, as Marco Sturm netted a rocket with less than five minutes remaining in the game, tying it at three apiece. Varlamov had to show off his acrobatic skills in the final 30 seconds as the Bruins made the last ditch effort to seal the deal. His efforts paid off as he held them back and extended the regular season into another five-minute overtime. The hometown darlings put on quite a show in the defensive arena staving off Boston in the extra minutes, with Mike Green blocking a Bruins shot while laying his entire body out on the ice and Semyon Varlamov using his cat-like reflexes to block pucks.
Neither team scored in overtime so to extend this last day of the regular season party just a bit, they had to base the final results on the shootout. David Krejci and Miro Satan netted goals for the Bruins while Matt Bradley and Boyd Gordon weren't able to get past Tim Thomas for the goals. Final score: Bruins 4 - Capitals 3
Now we all just have to wait to see what transpires between the Rangers and Flyers tonight to see who we'll be meeting in the first round of the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs. We'll be sure to keep you all posted and guys, time to start growing those playoff beards!