By Matt Noonan
The Boston Bruins began their Stanley Cup title defense on Thursday against the Washington Capitals with an overtime clincher by Chris Kelly.
Kelly raced down the ice early in the extra session, and whipped a shot past Washington goaltender Braden Holtby, (29 saves) for the game-winning goal.
Boston now leads their Eastern Conference quarterfinals series, 1-0, and will return to the ice for Game No. 2 on Saturday.
Here are some observations and thoughts from Boston’s first playoff contest.
How the game was won: Boston needed three periods and 1:18 in overtime to net their only strike of the contest, as Benoit Poulio and Brian Rolston connected with Kelly, who then deposited the puck past Holtby for the score a few seconds later.
Washington had numerous chances in the third period to light the lamp, but Tim Thomas, (17 saves) deflected all nine shots, which helped Boston force overtime.
Props to Holtby: Washington’s netminder was certainly the player of the game.
Holtby earned some “brownie points” midway through the second session when Boston experienced a 4-on-3 power play. The 22-year-old netminder kept his composure, and managed to deflect a handful of Bruins shots, which didn’t exactly jumpstart the Capitals offense.
Boston’s offense recorded 17 shots in the second frame, but again, couldn’t muster a goal. They also tallied nine shots on Holtby’s cage in the first period, and three in the third.
Boston’s Power Play: Similar to last season, the Boston Bruins struggled immensely on the power play.
Boston endured four power plays on Thursday, but didn’t muster a single goal with the extra skater, while Washington ended the game 0-for-2.
* Boston managed to win 33 of 65 face-offs, and also recorded 40 hits.
* The last time a Boston playoff team went into overtime tied, 0-0 was on May 12, 1995. New Jersey defeated the local hockey club, 1-0 in the extra session, and wound up winning that particular series, too.
* The last time Boston led a quarterfinal series, 1-0 was in 2009 against Montreal.