Fehr, Game – The Washington Capitals didn’t need to win Saturday night’s regular season finale against the Boston Bruins at Verizon Center. But they went ahead and won it anyway. And while they were at it, they did so in thrilling fashion.
The Caps dusted off a script from a March 5 game against the B’s in the District, spotting Boston a multi-goal lead before roaring back to draw even and send the game into overtime. Then, Eric Fehr supplied the game-winner just as he did last month. Saturday night’s final was 3-2 in favor of the Caps.
“That’s a good hockey team,” says Caps forward Matt Hendricks of the Bruins. “Boston’s a great hockey team. We battled hard to get back in the game. I think we’ve done it twice now, come back from behind against these guys and that’s not an easy thing to do. Showed our resolve and we need to continue playing that way in the playoffs.”
Washington put together a strong first period in Saturday’s game, but it went to the room down 1-0. Boston’s David Krejci won an offensive zone draw and a Milan Lucic shot glanced off the skate of Caps defenseman Karl Alzner and nestled just inside the far post at 9:59 of the first frame.
Boston went up 2-0 when blueliner Andrew Ference scored off the rush at 7:49 of the second period. Lucic carried through neutral ice, then fed Rich Peverley down the right side. Peverley lugged the puck to the half-wall, then dished to Ference at the right point. The B’s defenseman patiently moved in to the top of the right circle before firing a wrist shot past some traffic in front and behind Caps goalie Braden Holtby.
Washington had just one power play in the first 40 minutes of the game, but the Bruins came unglued in the discipline department after that and it cost them the game. The B’s were whistled for three minor penalties in a span of just 3:02 in the first half of the third, and the Caps cashed in on the first two of those man-advantage opportunities.
Fifteen seconds after Adam McQuaid tripped Caps winger Jason Chimera, Washington rearguard Mike Green put the Caps on the board. Troy Brouwer pushed a pass to Green at the right point and he floated a wrist shot that eluded Boston goalie Tuukka Rask at 5:26 of the third.
Rich Peverley took an offensive zone tripping call on Fehr just 61 seconds after the Green goal. Less than a minute after Peverley was seated, Green supplied the equalizer.
Green sent a long lead pass from his own end to Ribeiro near the Boston line. Ribeiro gained the zone and pulled up at the far side of the right circle, then put a pass right on a tee for Green who pounded a one-timer past Rask to make it a 2-2 game.
McQuaid tripped Caps center Mathieu Perreault less than a minutes after the second Washington goal, but the Caps couldn’t pull ahead on that power play bid.
Caps captain Alex Ovechkin and Bruins forward Brad Marchand were sent off for matching minors at 17:28 of the third, and when Green was detected for tripping Tyler Seguin at 18:21, the Bruins were in the catbird’s seat with a 4-on-3 power play for 67 seconds. The Caps’ penalty killing outfit got the job done, and then they killed off the remainder of the Green minor at the start of overtime.
One hundred seconds into the extra frame, Ribeiro went to the net, drawing a hooking call on B’s blueliner Zdeno Chara in the process. With less than 20 seconds remaining on the 4-on-3 man-advantage, Ribeiro sent a pass across the ice to Green. Gunning for the hat trick, Green wound up and fired a high shot from the left circle. Rask made a shoulder save, but Fehr pounced on the rebound and went bar-down with a backhand chip shot from the top of the paint to give the Caps their 27th win of the season.
“It was important tonight that we showed some character and came back and have the confidence going on into the playoffs,” says Green. “The guys played well tonight. [Braden] Holtby played outstanding. Probably the biggest thing is that he had the confidence in the last game.”
For the fourth time in the last five springs, the Caps will face the New York Rangers in the playoffs. Washington has won two of the three previous series between the two clubs since 2009.
“We’re pretty familiar with their style of play,” says Hendricks of the Rangers, “especially their style of play in the playoffs. It’s going to be a big test.”
Rocket Man – Ovechkin finished the season with 32 goals to win his third Rocket Richard Trophy in his eight seasons in the NHL. For the last 13 seasons, the Richard is awarded annually to the NHL player with the most goals.
The last time the NHL played a lockout-shortened, 48-game season in 1994-95, Washington’s Peter Bondra led the NHL in goals with 34 in 47 games played.
Sweet Sixteen – The 2012-13 season marks the first time in the last 16 seasons that the Capitals finished a campaign with more power play opportunities (164) than times shorthanded (163).
Over the last 15 seasons, the Caps were a combined minus-472 in that department, meaning they were shorthanded an average of 31.5 times more than they were on the power play over the last decade and a half.
Iron Men – Seven Capitals played in all 48 games of the 2012-13 season. Defensemen Alzner and John Carlson and forwards Nicklas Backstrom, Jay Beagle, Hendricks, Ovechkin and Ribeiro skated in every game for Washington this season.
For both Alzner and Carlson, this is the third straight season in which they’ve achieved that feat. Carlson has now played in 214 straight regular season games and Alzner 212.
Cheaper By The Dozen – Green’s two goals in Saturday’s game gave him 12 on the season in just 35 games played. In a combined total of 81 games played in the previous two seasons, Green totaled 11 goals.
Green’s 12 goals this season are the most by any blueliner in the NHL as are his eight even-strength goals.
Power Masters – Ovechkin led the NHL with 16 power play goals and Ribeiro led the league with 21 power play assists this season. With 27 power play points each, Ovechkin and Ribeiro tied for the league lead in power play scoring.
Working Overtime – Saturday’s game marked the first time Washington won its regular season finale on home ice and just the second time in the club’s 38 seasons that it won the final game of its regular season schedule beyond the 60-minute mark.
Lou Franceschetti scored just 12 seconds into overtime to give the Capitals a 6-5 win over the Devils in New Jersey on April 5, 1987.
Leader Board – Ovechkin finished with 56 points (32 goals, 24 assists), tied with Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby for third in the league in scoring.
Ribeiro finished with 49 points (13 goals, 36 assists), tied for 10th in the NHL in scoring and one point shy of reaching the 50-point plateau for the ninth straight season.
Backstrom ended up with 48 points (eight goals, 40 assists) to finish tied for 13th in the circuit in scoring. The Caps are the only team in the league with three players among the league’s top 16 scorers.
Backstrom’s 40 assists were good for third in the league this season.
Chinks In the PK Armor – Saturday marked the fifth time in Boston’s 47 games this season that the Bruins surrendered more than one power play goal in a game. Four of those five occurrences have come in the Bruins’ last seven games.
Boston entered Saturday’s game with the NHL’s top penalty killing unit at 88.5%. But in its last seven games, the B’s penalty-killing outfit is just 19-for-28 (67.9%) in its shorthanded missions.
Down On The Farm – Friday night was a great night for both of Washington’s minor league affiliates. The AHL Hershey Bears opened up their best-of-five first-round playoff series with the Providence Bruins in Providence on Friday night, and the Bears skated off with a 5-2 victory.
Hershey scored on three of its first four power play chances in the game to roar out to a 3-0 lead before the midpoint of the middle frame. Joey Crabb, Casey Wellman and Jon DiSalvatore supplied those tallies, and then Dmitry Orlov made it 4-0 for Hershey with an even-strength strike at 9:23 of the second period.
Providence came back with a pair to halve the Hershey advantage, but Michael Latta’s shorthanded empty-netter in the waning seconds finished off the Bruins and accounted for the final score. Philipp Grubauer made 31 saves to earn his first AHL playoff victory.
Game 2 of the series takes place in Providence on Sunday at 3 p.m., and the series shifts back to Hershey next weekend.
T. J. Syner scored an overtime goal to give the Reading Royals a 3-2 win in Game 4 of their second-round Kelly Cup series against the Florida Everblades in Florida on Friday night. That victory evened the best-of-seven series at two games apiece.
The two teams hooked up again on Saturday night in Game 5 of the series, and again Reading prevailed in overtime. Evan Barlow scored his second goal of the game at 9:45 of the extra session to give the Royals the win and a 3-2 lead in the series. After taking a 2-0 lead in the first, the Royals found themselves down 4-2 with less than five minutes remaining. Barlow scored a power play goal with 4:39 left to cut the lead to 4-3, and Nikita Kashirsky scored an extra-man tally with just 1:47 left to send the game into overtime.
Turner Gill made 21 saves to earn the win for Reading. Coach Larry Courville’s crew can close out the Everblades on Tuesday when the series shifts back to Reading’s Sovereign Center for Game 6.
By The Numbers – Green led the Caps with 25:59 in ice time, nine shots on net and he tied with Jack Hillen for the lead with four blocked shots … John Erskine led the Caps with seven hits … Backstrom won 14 of 21 draws (67%) … Seguin led the B’s with six shots on net … Dennis Seidenberg paced Boston with five hits.