Boston's dreams of holding onto the Stanley Cup for another season were crushed on Wednesday when they suffered a 2-1 overtime loss to the Washington Capitals in Game Seven of their Eastern Conference playoff series.

Joel Ward snatched the game-winner with a backhanded rebound in the extra session, and Caps goaltender Braden Holtby made 31 stops to get the better of his Bruins counterpart Tim Thomas.

"He's unbelievable. He's carried the load for us," Ward told reporters of the 22-year-old Holtby. "He's calm and cool every day. Hopefully he takes us over through the next round."

Each of the seven games in the series were decided by a single goal, a first for the NHL playoffs, with four of them going to overtime.

Matt Hendricks scored for the Capitals in the first period before Boston's Tyler Seguin made it 1-1 in the second and the teams battled through a scoreless third period.

(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Peter Rutherford)