- Washington has stormed back since falling into a 2-0 deficit while Boston is gearing toward a second round appearance.
You have to give credit to Alex Ovechkin. The Capitals’ star forward called it, after all.
After Washington lost both games at home to open the series, Ovechkin made it clear his team would return to D.C. to play more hockey.
“It’s going to be fun when we bounce back and going to tie the series and come back here and play Game 5 at home,” he said, adding that he expected things to be all knotted up by that point.
The Caps won Game 3 in overtime—the third straight extra-time decision in the series—to ensure they would play Game 5 at home, and then proved their captain prophetic with a full 60-minute effort that translated into a 4-1 Game 4 win that tied the series at two games apiece.
For his part, Ovechkin notched a goal and an assist, while Evgeni Kuznetsov popped in a goal and two helpers. Tom Wilson added two points of his own, including a blast from the point that beat Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky to open the scoring. T.J. Oshie scored as well, giving Washington the series’ first regulation win.
The game also stood out for goalie Braden Holtby, who withstood 24 Columbus shots, only getting beat on a tipped shot from Boone Jenner. It marked the first game the netminder had let in fewer than two goals in a start since mid-November, a return to form for the former Vezina Trophy winner in a season of inconsistency.
Bobrosvky was a lone bright spot for the Blue Jackets, making 29 saves on the night, including a gorgeous glove-hand grab on Ovechkin’s third-period breakaway attempt.
Columbus coach John Tortorella didn’t mince words following the loss—he didn’t have many at all, really.
“We weren't good,” he said. “We weren't good. There's no sense in asking me things about the game. I'm telling you: We laid an egg.”
With the overtime curse on the series broken, the Capitals next hope to become the first team to win at home and make it three straight wins in Game 5 on Saturday.
BRUINS 3, MAPLE LEAFS 1
Following a lackluster Game 3 performance, the Bruins headed into Game 4 in Toronto in need of a spark. Making matters worse, they had to go into the matchup without center Patrice Bergeron, a late scratch with an upper-body injury. Thankfully, goalie Tuukka Rask stepped up to help Boston adjust, making 31 saves to put the Maple Leafs’ season on the brink. The Finnish netminder held Toronto at bay until the Bruins found their game midway through, with Brad Marchand scoring on a 2-on-1 opportunity late in the second period for a 2-1 lead, while Jake DeBrusk finished off a feed from David Krejci to cap the scoring in the third period.
With the win, the Bruins head back to Boston with a 3-1 series lead and a chance to finish off the series in front of the home crowd.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT
Things could have been much worse in Columbus if it weren’t for Sergei Bobrovksy. Witness his quick glove save on Alex Ovechkin’s full-speed attempt:
1. Tuukka Rask, BOS — With the Bruins down one of their best players, Rask kept the team afloat until it found its stride.
2. Braden Holtby, WSH — The embattled goalie reclaimed his crease on Thursday, keeping the Blue Jackets at bay with 23 saves.
3. Alex Ovechkin, WSH — He followed through on a prediction made after Game 2 AND he did a Frank the Tank goal celebration. That’s how you get yourself a star, folks.
The Avalanche had to start the playoffs without their No. 1 goalie, and for Game 5, they’ll be without No. 2. Jonathan Bernier left Wednesday’s Game 4 against the Predators with a lower-body injury, leaving the nets to Andrew Hammond, who stopped eight shots in the 3-2 loss. Hammond led the Senators on an incredible run in 2014-15, but has struggled to hold an NHL job since. There could definitely be a miracle run left in those pads of his, but it’s a hard ask against such a stacked Nashville team that leads the series 3-1 and can already taste the second round.
Things don’t get much easier for the Flyers, either. A 5-0 loss to the Penguins in Game 4 put Philly on the wrong side of a 3-1 series score and marked the the third time in the series the Flyers had given up at least five goals. Veteran goalie Brian Elliott has shown he can rebound in a big way already in this series, and Philly will need him to. Possibly—maybe?—getting Sean Couturier back in the lineup will be a boon to the Flyers’ hopes, but it might already be too late with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin et al eyeing up another Stanley Cup run.
If the Wild hope to stay alive in their first-round matchup with the Jets, who are one win away from the second round following Tuesday’s Game 4 victory, they’re going to need their regular-season studs to step up. Jason Zucker, who posted a career-high 33 goals and 64 points in 2017-18, has come up with zilch in four games so far. The same goes for Nino Neiderreiter, Charlie Coyle and Tyler Ennis. With Zach Parise out with a broken sternum, someone has to fill the offensive void, and fast. Jets rookie goalie Connor Hellebuyck is awaiting the challenge, but he and the rest of Winnipeg’s young, exciting roster aren’t planning to hang around in the first round for much longer.