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Capitals lose starting goalie but beat Bruins in overtime as NHL playoffs begin

T.J. Oshie's target single, John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Roads," reverberated across Capital One Arena's quarter-full audience.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – T.J. Oshie’s target single, John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” reverberated across Capital One Arena’s quarter-full audience. The credit actually belonged to someone else, but Capitals fans were not in the mood to argue.

Nic Dowd’s deflection of T.J. Oshie’s shot from the blue line reached the back of the net 4:41 into overtime, giving the Capitals a 3-2 win over the Bruins in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series on Saturday night.

Early in the game, the Capitals overcame the loss of starting goaltender Vitek Vanecek to a lower-body injury, with backup Craig Anderson making 21 saves and allowing just one power-play goal.

Tom Wilson shuttled a pass back to Oshie, who blasted a one-timer on goal as four Capitals players joined the offensive zone. Dowd stretched his stick for the deflection, and the puck slid under Tuukka Rask’s leg pads and over the goal line.

“I think you just got to read the play,” Dowd said. “You have the opportunity to join the rush, you join the rush and, you know, you make a play and we were fortunate enough to do that.”

A challenge initiated by the NHL Situation Room investigated whether the Capitals entered the zone on-side, but the video supported the call on the ice.

Tom Wilson and Brenden Dillon also scored for the Capitals. Daniel Sprong and Anthony Mantha, making their playoff debuts, each had an assist.

Jake DeBrusk and Nick Ritchie scored for Boston, and Tuukka Rask made 29 saves.

“I don’t think we let other teams win, to be honest with you,” DeBrusk said. “I think give them credit, they made a good play to win in overtime and they played a solid game. It was a tight game, for us and for them, and I thought that there were some scoring chances either way.”

Wilson opened the scoring 6:22 into the game. Boston’s Charlie McAvoy broke his stick on a shot attempt, leading to a 3-on-2 Washington breakaway with Oshie at the center of it. After a few quick passes, Wilson roofed it over Rask’s far shoulder.

Curtis Lazar won an offensive-zone faceoff and chopped the puck behind him to DeBrusk for a wrister that eluded Vanecek’s lunge to the right with 6:50 left in the game.

Vanecek was injured during the match, and Anderson, who turns 40 on Friday, took his place. He hadn’t played in a playoff game since 2017 and had only appeared in four regular-season games for Washington.

“Tough spot, I think, to put somebody in, but Andy’s answered the bell – really his whole career, but he’s answered it for us when we needed him,” Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said. “He truly epitomizes the concept of working hard every day so that when you get your opportunity you’re ready, and that’s exactly what he did.”

Anderson joked that he was well-rested from having played so little during the season.

“I think opportunity knocks, you make the most of your opportunity,” Anderson said. “I’ve been here before, so I can share my experiences with Vitek and (goalie Ilya Samsonov) and to now get the opportunity to live what I’ve been telling them, it’s a great feeling to kind of be involved and be a part of it.

The crowd at Capital One Arena thought Alex Ovechkin put the Capitals ahead in the second period with a deflection goal off Dillon’s point shot. Instead the goal was credited to Dillon after replay showed the puck bounced through traffic and off a Boston stick, but not off Ovechkin’s.

With 3:22 left in the second, the Bruins scored on their third power-play opportunity of the game, with Dmitry Orlov in the box for high-sticking. David Pastrnak’s shot deflected off Ritchie’s skate and through Anderson’s legs, narrowly making it across the line before being cleared by a defender.


Normally a right wing, Oshie played out of position as Washington’s third-line center, with Evgeny Kuznetsov out due to COVID-19 protocols. The lineup decision paid off as he cashed in with two assists.

Oshie returned from a lower-body injury he sustained May 8 that caused him to miss the Capitals’ regular-season finale. He left the bench briefly during the first period before returning to the game.


Capitals defenseman Zdeno Chara faced the Bruins in a playoff game for the first time after spending 14 years as Boston’s captain. Chara finished with one shot and three hits.

Also, former Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall made his Bruins playoff debut a month after joining them as a trade-deadline acquisition from Buffalo. The second-line left wing had two shots in 17:49 of ice time.

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