It was Craig Smith who played hero for the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night.
The Bruins forward took advantage of the Capitals getting a tad lazy in their own end and buried the game-winner in Boston’s thrilling double-overtime win over Washington to go up 2-1 in its first-round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The second line of Smith, David Krejci and Taylor Hall has been something out of a story book since Hall was acquired by the Bruins in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres at this year’s deadline. They look like they’ve played together for years, Krejci finally has some stability on his wings and they’re thriving through three games en route to another Stanley Cup.
With the way Smith has played, and of course winning Game 3 for the B’s, it’s no surprise he drew high praise from his coach and teammates after the victory.
“I think he tilts the ice with his wall play in his end and his speed through the neutral zone,” Taylor Hall said over Zoom. “The ability to create turnovers in the offensive zone right away was something that caught my eye when we started playing together. That’s one of my favorite things to do is create offense off the turnovers. … Obviously that goal tonight is a classic example of him putting pressure on a guy with his speed and his physicality, and then making a play for the goal afterwards. (He’s) probably one of the most well-liked guys I’ve played with as a teammate. I’m just really happy for him tonight.”
Bruce Cassidy had plenty to say about Smith, as well.
“He’s a high-energy guy. He’s always gonna work and try to play the right way,” he said on Zoom. “… Good for him to get in on a puck. We have a plan in place to try to play behind their D. … You don’t expect to get those, but if you keep playing behind their D and force them to break pucks out, you will get some breaks like that. And he stayed on it, and good for him to have the recognition to stuff it.”
For Smith, he was just happy he got a goal.
“It was a great feeling,” he said. “I love winning, but I hate waiting.”
Here are some other notes from Wednesday’s Bruins-Capitals Game 3:
— Hall went from having a “greasy goal” in Game 2 to scoring one of the prettiest goals you’ve probably seen through the Stanley Cup Playoffs thus far.
“There’s times in games you wanna get it on net quickly,” he said. “You wanna surprise the goalie, but there’s also times if that you can make a play around him then that’s what you can do as well. I started to get some confidence goal-scoring wise since I’ve gotten here, and that’s probably a good example of that.”
— David Pastrnak scared all of TD Garden when he went awkwardly into the boards after a scoring chance in the double-overtime period. No penalty or penalty shot was called as Pastrnak remained down for a few minutes. He was able to skate to the bench on his own accord, thankfully, but Cassidy believed a call should have been made.
“Absolutely,” he said. “Those are the calls that you have to make. They obviously didn’t see it that way, so we had to play through it. I thought they missed that one. … Good to see our guys play through it.”
Play through it they did, and it turned out to go in the Bruins’ favor at the end of the day.
— Tuukka Rask stopped 35 shots in almost 86 minutes of play and came up big in overtime and double-overtime to keep his team in it. He now is tied with Gerry Cheevers for most wins by a Bruins goalie in team history with 53.
But other than his saves, the goalie also got into it briefly with Garnet Hathaway after getting his helmet ripped off and throwing a few punches Hathaway’s way.
“I’m just protecting myself,” Rask said. “I’m not surprised there’s not a penalty. It’s gonna take a lot for them to call anything. So I figured I’ll let him know that if he comes close, maybe I gave him a couple too many. I don’t know. That’s what the refs thought.”
— Game 4 is set for Friday night at TD Garden. Puck drop is set for 6:30 p.m. ET on NESN, with pregame beginning at 5:30 p.m.