After 60 scoreless regulation minutes of play between the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals, it took Chris Kelly just 1:18 to find the back of the net and give the Bruins the win.
Kelly scored off a slap shot assisted by his linemates, Benoit Pouliot and Brian Rolston–the latter earning his first playoff point since 2010, when he was with the New Jersey Devils. For his great performance, Kelly earned the Bruins’ new MVP tradition: a large chain necklace with a padlock. The brainchild of Andrew Ference, who also found the vintage jacket awarded to last season’s MVP, the necklace has 20 links to symbolize the 20 players who dress each game. The idea is that no link is weak, that everyone can be the standout and anyone can shine. It’s what the Bruins are all about. After all, this game’s MVP was a third-line center who, on another team, might not be expected to do much. On the Bruins, he has a leadership role and can be truly clutch in situations like these.
Another standout Bruin was Tim Thomas, who was tested with just 17 Capitals shots throughout the game. By comparison, the Bruins fired 17 shots at Braden Holtby in the second period alone. Still, when called upon, Thomas was at his best. He did so well that the young Holtby seemed to be imitating him: tapping the pipes with his stick after periods, getting physical and earning a roughing penalty against Kelly, which reminded me of this incident from last June.
There was some aggression brewing during this first playoff meeting, that’s for sure. At one point in the first period, Jason Chimera seemed to roll up into a ball and fire himself at Thomas’ legs during a post-whistle scrum. He lost balance but then just dusted himself off like it was no big deal. Still, to Bruins fans who remember that Chimera is the reason Adam McQuaid is not playing, it doesn’t sit well. While there were no big fights yet, no instances of Shawn Thornton taking anyone down, the bad blood brewing could make this series rough, aggressive and dramatic. Consider that the Bruins put together 40 hits and the Capitals 29.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Bruins were not good on the power play. They were given chances on the man advantage, including six minutes basically uninterrupted thanks to a double-minor penalty by Jay Beagle and then Troy Brouwer incurring a delay of game, but could not convert. Then again, neither did the Capitals when they had the advantage. Bruins fans, repeat after me: we won the Stanley Cup on a bad power play.
Here’s hoping the other games in this series are higher-scoring, though. It’s truly a nail biter to have it all come down to just one shot in overtime, even with guys like Kelly on the roster. Now that the Bruins have learned a little more about how Holtby works, it’s time to light him up like a Christmas tree.
The Bruins will stay in Boston to take on the Capitals again, April 14 at 3 p.m. on NBC.