After playing a pair of tightly-contested games in Boston, the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series between the Bruins and Capitals will shift to Washington for tonight's pivotal Game 3 at the Verizon Center.
These teams have combined for just four goals so far in this deadlocked best- of-seven series, with Boston claiming the opener in overtime by a 1-0 score and Washington taking a 2-1 double-OT victory in Game 2.
Nicklas Backstrom was the hero for the seventh-seeded Capitals in Saturday's Game 2, as he scored 2:56 into the second overtime to help Washington earn a split in Boston against the defending Stanley Cup champions.
Marcus Johansson gained control of the puck after a faceoff in the Boston end of the ice and slipped a pass from the left corner to Backstrom, who fired a wrister to the short side past Tim Thomas.
Backstrom registered just his second goal since December 30. The Swede was sidelined for a large chunk of the season's second half because of a concussion.
"[Backstrom is] getting better every game and getting more ice," said Washington head coach Dale Hunter. "He's been strong, he's going to net, too, and battling for loose pucks."
Meanwhile, Caps star winger Alex Ovechkin posted his first point of the series, assisting on Troy Brouwer's goal in regulation.
Braden Holtby made 43 saves for the Capitals, while Thomas stopped 37 shots.
"We just need to be a little bit better than they are at winning battles," said Boston head coach Claude Julien.
Benoit Pouliot scored the lone goal for Boston, as he tied the contest at 1-1 with 7:47 left in the third period. It was Pouliot's first career playoff goal.
Holtby has certainly exceeded expectations in his first two NHL playoff games, stopping 72-of-74 shots so far in this series for a .973 save percentage and a 0.83 goals-against average. The 22-year-old has been forced into a starting role after injuries to Tomas Vokoun (groin) and Michal Neuvirth (left leg).
Washington's third-string netminder has been backed up by Dany Sabourin in Games 1 and 2 and that expects to be Washington's goaltending situation for tonight's test as well. Neuvirth has been practicing and could be close to returning from his lower-body injury, while Vokoun is still out indefinitely with his groin issues. However, even if Neuvirth is ready to go tonight, Hunter has said he will stick with the red-hot Holtby.
The Capitals, who will also host Game 4 on Thursday, hope to gain control of this series on their home ice. Washington had a strong 26-11-4 record in D.C. this season.
Boston is playing its first road playoff game tonight since winning the franchise's first Stanley Cup title since 1972 with last spring's Game 7 victory in Vancouver. The Northeast Division champions were 25-15-1 as the visiting team during the 2011-12 campaign.
The Bruins had won seven straight home playoff games before dropping Saturday's double-OT tilt.
Washington won three of four meetings against the Bruins during the regular season and Boston and the Caps 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.