Yet, there were some positives the Bruins could take from their 4-3 loss to the Washington Capitals in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals on Saturday at TD Garden. One of them was the sudden improvement of the Boston power play.
The Bruins' play with the man advantage has been under scrutiny again this postseason, one year after the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in spite of a lackluster power play. After going 0-for-21 in the first round last year against the Canadiens, the B's entered Saturday in a similar slump.
The Boston power play had been missing for the entire series, as the Bruins entered play Saturday at an 0-for-12 clip through four games.
That drought wasn't broken initially, but Boston did show better puck movement up a man early on. They even came close, as defenseman Zdeno Chara beat Washington goalie Braden Holtby in the first period, but the young goaltender was bailed out by the crossbar.
Down 3-2 in the third period, the Bruins finally broke through when defenseman Johnny Boychuk unleashed one of his patented slap shots from the top of the left face-off circle, beating Holtby to tie the game. The tally was set up by a strong play on the puck by Brad Marchand, who carried it deep into the Washington zone before sending it back to the point, to Dennis Seidenberg, who set up Boychuk for the one-time blast.
"Seids [Seidenberg] got the pass, and I just wanted to get in a shooting lane to get it through the net," Boychuk said. “He made the pass, and all you can do is get it on net, and it went through."
Boychuk’s goal snapped the 0-for-14 skid, and it also served as vindication for a dedicated effort to better puck movement in the offensive zone.
"[We were] just moving the puck quick, tape-to-tape passes,” Boychuk said. "Not really too many bobbled passes to and from each other. It was just a lot crisper than it has been."
Bruins coach Claude Julien explained that the Bruins had been working to move the puck better as of late, and it finally paid off in Game 5.
"We made some of those adjustments a couple of games ago, and we only had one power play last game,” he said. "The power play was better [Saturday]. We’re hoping we can kep it going that way because it might come in handy the next game or so."
The Bruins have their backs up against the wall now. They don’t have much time to think it over, with a do-or-die Game 6 waiting for them in Washington on Sunday.
They’re going to need all of the weapons they can get if they’re going to stave off elimination and force a Game 7. If Saturday was any indication, the Bruins' power play may be something to be reckoned with again.
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