Capitals looking for 2-0 series lead against visiting Bruins

NHL Hockey

The Washington Capitals pulled out an unlikely victory in overtime against the visiting Boston Bruins in Game 1 of their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series Saturday night.

Washington had to overcome some big hurdles for the 3-2 win, and the host Capitals face more questions heading into Game 2 on Monday night.

Craig Anderson, who turns 40 this week, needed to relieve starter Vitek Vanecek in goal during the first period after the rookie appeared to hurt his leg — the team called it a “lower-body injury.” Ilya Samsonov, who has been alternating with Vanecek in net this season, had been on the COVID-19 protocol list for a second time and was pulled off of it Saturday but did not dress.

Pheonix Copley served as the third goalie for the Caps, but the veteran Anderson made 21 saves and gave up just one goal. Anderson was on the taxi squad most of the year and played in just four regular-season games.

Still, one of them was the season finale, a 2-1 overtime win over Philadelphia, something that Anderson said gave him a boost and helped him be ready when Vanecek suffered his injury in Game 1.

“Getting into that game at the end of the regular season there (was good),” said Anderson, “It had been a couple of months, and just to get that game I was able to stay a little fresh and jump start the engine there. It just reinforces the fact that you are one shot and one play away from being the guy in the net.”

The Caps still have not said what Samsonov’s situation will be in this series. Center Evgeny Kuznetsov was placed on the COVID-19 protocol list on May 4 and remains there, so his future remains even more in doubt. His absence forced T.J. Oshie to move from right wing to center, and he tallied two assists Saturday.

Washington’s defense gave Anderson lots of help and played a strong game as Boston struggled to find good scoring chances. Anderson gave up a number of rebounds and loose pucks, but the Bruins could not convert enough of them.

“Give Washington credit; we couldn’t escape pressure and find the open guy on the power play,” Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said. “A lot of those guys who have been doing a lot of scoring for us just weren’t able to get to their game tonight, or get the puck to cooperate or support each other enough to generate enough offense.”

Jake DeBrusk scored with 6:50 left in the first period — the play where Vanecek injured himself — and that tied the game at 1-1.

Nick Ritchie scored a late second-period power-play goal that trickled through Anderson’s pads to make it 2-2 before Nic Dowd tipped Oshie’s shot past goalie Tuukka Rask at 4:41 of the overtime.

Rask finished with 29 stops as Washington kept the pressure on throughout.

Patrice Bergeron played in playoff game No. 150 for Boston, tying longtime Bruin and now Capitals defenseman Zdeno Chara in the No. 2 spot in team history. Ray Bourque leads that category with 180 games.

–Field Level Media

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