The defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins will try to avoid an early exit from the postseason when they visit the Washington Capitals for Game 6 today at the Verizon Center.
The second-seeded Bruins won their first Stanley Cup title since 1972 last spring, but find themselves trailing Washington 3-2 in this best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal series. The Capitals grabbed the upper hand in the matchup with a close victory in Saturday's pivotal Game 5 in Boston.
Troy Brouwer scored a power-play goal late in regulation to lift Washington to the 4-3 decision yesterday at TD Garden.
The game-winner came with Bruins forward Benoit Pouliot in the box for slashing, a call made with 2:50 left in regulation. Brouwer streaked up the right wing thanks to a lead pass from John Carlson, and let go a wrister from the bottom of the right circle that zipped over Boston goaltender Tim Thomas' shoulder and inside the near post with 1:27 to play.
"He fooled me and beat me clean," Thomas said.
Alexander Semin, Jay Beagle and Mike Knuble also lit the lamp for the seventh- seeded Capitals, who will try to finish off this first-round upset today on home ice. Washington was 26-11-4 as the host during the regular season and has split a pair of games with the Bruins in D.C. in this series.
Braden Holtby continued his excellent postseason for the Capitals on Saturday, stopping 34-of-37 shots in the win. He has stopped 175-of-185 shots for a save percentage of .946 in the first five playoff games of his career.
"It was an exciting game both ways. Every game has been tough with them, they play hard," said Capitals head coach Dale Hunter. "Neither team is going to quit, there's a lot of character there. The guys in here have some too and we showed it today."
Brad Marchand, Dennis Seidenberg and Johnny Boychuk tallied on Saturday for the Bruins, who are in danger of being eliminated in the first round for the first time since losing to Montreal in the 2008 conference quarterfinals.
Thomas allowed all four scores on 32 shots, but last year's Conn Smythe winner is hoping to lead his club to victory in today's elimination game.
"You've got to bring it and do it," Thomas told the Bruins official web site. "It's not going to be for granted that we're going to do it [again]. It's up to us in this room."
The Bruins could be without key forward Patrice Bergeron today after he suffered an undisclosed injury in Saturday's contest. Defenseman Joe Corvo also left Game 5, and, like Bergeron, is questionable for today's tilt.
Boston is one setback away from becoming the second straight Stanley Cup winner to be eliminated in the first round the following season. Chicago was ousted by Vancouver in last year's opening round after winning it all in 2010.
The Bruins were 25-15-1 as the road team during the regular season and they'll get to host Game 7 on Wednesday if they can survive today's contest.
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.