The Boston Bruins will try to build off an overtime victory in the opener of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, as they host the Washington Capitals this afternoon for Game 2 of the best-of-seven series.
The Bruins needed just one goal, a slap shot by Chris Kelly, to earn the victory in Thursday's Game 1 in Boston. The game-winner came just 78 seconds into the extra session after neither club was able to score through the game's first 60 minutes.
It may not have been the most impressive victory for the defending Stanley Cup champions, but it was still a good start to the 2012 postseason for the second-seeded Bruins.
Each team had a shot in the abbreviated overtime, with reigning playoff MVP Tim Thomas kicking out a bid from Washington's Marcus Johansson. Seconds later, Kelly beat playoff neophyte Braden Holtby to the glove side with a slap shot from the top of the left circle.
"It's playoff-style hockey, no high-scoring games," Kelly said.
Holtby, meanwhile, exceeded expectations in his playoff debut, stopping 29 shots before allowing the goal to Kelly. The 22-year-old Holtby is Washington's third-string netminder, but has been forced into the starting role after injuries to Tomas Vokoun (groin) and Michal Neuvirth (left leg).
However, despite an excellent overall performance in Game 1, Washington's goaltender would've liked to get another crack at Kelly's shot.
"Just didn't react to [the shot]," Holtby admitted.
Holtby was backed up by Dany Sabourin in Game 1 and that expects to be Washington's goaltending situation for today'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.
The Capitals would also like to see star forward Alex Ovechkin get his offensive game going today. Ovechkin was held off the scoresheet on Thursday and had just one shot on net.
Meanwhile, Boston's Thomas, who is a two-time Vezina Trophy winner in addition to claiming last year's Conn Smythe, made 17 saves to record his sixth career playoff shutout.
One concern for the Bruins heading into today's contest is the health of forward David Krejci, who sustained a sore neck after a freak accident in Game 1. Krejci was celebrating Kelly's game-winner when a pane of glass separated from the boards at TD Garden and fell on top of him.
The good news for Boston is that Krejci, who was third on Boston with 62 points during the regular season, says he is fine.
"I got a little sore neck but other than that I'm good and I'll play tomorrow," Krejci said on Thursday.
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.
Boston was 24-14-3 as the home team this season, while the Capitals had a poor 16-21-4 record as the guest.
Game 3 of this series is scheduled for Monday in Washington.