Boston, MA – The Stanley Cup will be hoisted by a different team this season.
Joel Ward's goal 2:57 into overtime gave Washington a 2-1 win over Boston in Game 7 of this Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
Mike Knuble blocked a Benoit Pouliot dump-in and brought the puck into the Boston end down the left wing. He crashed the net and got a backhand off that Tim Thomas stopped. The puck, though, came back out and Ward was there to backhand the rebound in for the win and series victory.
Boston came into this series as the defending Cup champions and the second seed in the Eastern Conference after winning the Northeast Division, but were unable to advance in its quest to become the first repeat champs since the Red Wings won the Cup in 1997 and 1998.
Much of Washington's success can be contributed to goaltender Braden Holtby, who made 31 saves on Wednesday to help the Capitals advance to the conference semifinals. In his first-ever playoff series, Holtby posted a 2.00 goals against average along with a .940 save percentage.
"He's a unique kid and nothing fazes him," said Washington head coach Dale Hunter about Holtby. "He's a warrior out there and that's the best thing I can say about him."
Matt Hendricks scored the other goal of the game for Washington, which awaits the results of Thursday's games to see who it will play in the next round.
"This is what hockey is all about, winning in overtime in the seventh game," said Hunter. "This was a big character game and I'm real happy for all my guys."
Tyler Seguin, the hero of Sunday's Game 6 overtime win, scored the lone goal of the game for the Bruins, who had won three Game 7s last season, including a series clincher against Vancouver in the Cup finals en route to their sixth championship in club history.
Thomas, who won both the Conn Smythe and Vezina trophies last season, made 25 saves in the game.
"This team overcame a lot of difficult obstacles this season and we should keep our heads high," said Boston captain Zdeno Chara. "We should be proud of ourselves and what we've accomplished here."
Every game in this series was decided by just one goal, marking the first time in NHL history that seven straight playoff games have ended in one-goal margins.
The Capitals got on the board at the 11:23 mark of the first. Milan Lucic tried to bring the puck out of his zone along the boards, but lost it and Jason Chimera grabbed it. A pass back to the right point saw John Carlson fire a wrister on net that Hendricks re-directed past Thomas.
The second period saw Boston tie the game with 5:33 to play. A slap shot at the left point from Andrew Ference was stopped by Holtby, but he kicked the rebound out to the right point where Johnny Boychuk one-timed it on net. Holtby made the save, but it trickled behind him and Seguin swept it in before it could be knocked away.
The third period passed scoreless with Thomas making 12 saves and Holtby six. Boston was awarded a power play with 2:26 to play after Chimera was called for holding, but the man advantage was ineffective in applying any pressure and the teams skated to overtime.
This was the 32nd time in the history of the NHL playoffs that a Game 7 had gone to overtime...The Bruins have lost three of the five Game 7 overtimes in team history...Washington has split four Game 7 overtime results...Boston was the second straight Cup champion to be knocked out in the first round. Chicago, which won the Cup in 2010, was knocked out by Vancouver last season in the quarterfinals...Hunter became head coach of the Capitals earlier in the season after Bruce Boudreau was fired.