The Washington Capitals will try for their first lead of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinals, as they visit the second- seeded Boston Bruins for today's Game 5 at TD Garden.
This series is knotted at 2-2 and the clubs have alternated wins since Boston claimed the opener in overtime. However, the Bruins have won both of the odd- numbered games and they hope to continue that trend this afternoon.
Game 6 of this series is scheduled for tomorrow in Washington, making the Capitals and Bruins the only teams who will play on consecutive days in the opening round of the playoffs.
The seventh-seeded Capitals used a brilliant performance from goaltender Braden Holtby to take Game 4 in D.C. Holtby made 44 saves in Thursday's 2-1 victory and has stopped 141-of-148 shots so far in this series for an outstanding .953 save percentage.
Alexander Semin scored the game-winner for Washington, breaking a 1-1 tie with his second goal of the series with 1:17 left in the second period. Marcus Johansson scored the other goal for the Capitals.
"They came out real hard tonight, forecheck was hard and we turned the puck over a few times," said Washington head coach Dale Hunter. "Holtby was very good. He stood tall and kicked out a lot of rubber tonight."
Holtby has been forced into a starting role in this series thanks injuries to Tomas Vokoun (groin) and Michal Neuvirth (left leg), but the 22-year-old has taken hold of the No. 1 spot thanks to his strong series.
However, Neuvirth, who hasn't played since April 5, will return to the bench today to serve as Holtby's backup. Dany Sabourin had been filling that role before being sent back to Hershey of the AHL on Friday.
Washington won the last contest despite playing without center Nicklas Backstrom as he was suspended due to cross-checking Boston forward Rich Peverley at the end of Game 3. Backstrom has one goal and one assist in three games during this series and is eager to get back on the ice today.
"It's tough to sit out and see the guys and not be able to be with them," Backstrom said. "But I'm happy that we won the game. Now we've got to focus on a big game on Saturday."
Peverley scored the only goal for the Bruins in Game 4, while Tim Thomas stopped 19 shots in the loss.
"Giving up that first goal and playing catch-up hockey," said Boston head coach Claude Julien. "We tied the game. We were right back where we wanted to be. But at the end of the night the results weren't the ones we wanted. When you shoot 40 shots on net you would expect your team to get more than one goal so there's obviously some areas that we're not happy with."
The Caps won three of four meetings against Boston during the regular season and the Bruins and Washington have split a pair of all-time playoff meetings. The last time the clubs met in the postseason was in the 1998 conference quarterfinals when Washington won in six games en route to their first and only Stanley Cup Finals appearance.