BOSTON (AP) — Craig Smith scored 5:48 into the second overtime Wednesday night to give the Boston Bruins a 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals and a 2-1 lead in their East Division first-round playoff series.
Smith outraced Washington defenseman Justin Schultz to a puck behind the Capitals net and swept it around into the goal to end the third straight overtime game in the series. It was the 11th straight one-goal playoff game between them since 1998.
Smith also had an assist, and Brad Marchand and Taylor Hall also scored for Boston. Tuukka Rask stopped 35 shots for the Bruins.
Alex Ovechkin scored his 800th combined regular season and postseason goal, and Nic Dowd returned from a slap shot off the knee to add a goal for Washington. Ilya Samsonov returned from the COVID-19 list to make his playoff debut, stopping 40 shots for Washington, which lost the home-ice advantage after splitting the first two games at home.
Game 4 is Friday night in Boston.
Dowd had to limp off the ice and head to the dressing room after blocking a shot with his right knee midway through the second period. He was back and charging the net when Garnet Hathaway kept the puck in at the blue line and fed him for the goal that made it 2-1 with less than two minutes to go in the period.
But it was Dowd who was called for high-sticking to set up the power play that led to Marchand’s tying goal. The puck bounced from Charlie McAvoy to Patrice Bergeron before Marchand swiped it into the net with 8:28 left in regulation to make it 2-2.
Marchand, who had two penalties in Game 2 before scoring the winner just 39 seconds into overtime, was whistled for the penalty that led to Ovechkin’s goal after the Bruins dominated the scoreless first period.
Boston still had a 15-9 advantage in shots when Ovechkin scored on the power play with 11:39 left in the second. It was his first goal of the series but the 70th of his postseason career, giving him a total of 800 for the regular season and playoffs.
That lead lasted less than a minute before Smith slid the puck to Hall in the slot. After some stickhandling to get Samsonov out of position, he lofted it over the goalie to tie it at 1.
The second overtime started out with a slew of injuries.
First, David Pastrnak went head- and neck-first into the boards after he was stopped on a breakaway; he needed a whistle and help from the training staff to get back to his feet. A few minutes later, linesman Devin Berg had his skates swept out from under him and went down hard; he remained in the game.
It was no surprise when the Bruins fans made oft-suspended Capitals forward Tom Wilson feel unwelcome, occasionally with a vulgar chant.
But the Boston crowd, which was at 25% capacity due to COVID-19 restrictions, also jeered former Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, who was appearing at the TD Garden as a postseason opponent for the first time in his career.
The 44-year-old Chara played 14 years in a Bruins sweater and led Boston to the 2011 Stanley Cup title, but he left as a free agent last offseason and signed with Washington, which promised him a full-time role. He played 20:04 minutes and was a plus-1.
Samsonov went 13-4-1 in the regular season but had not played since May 1, missing seven games on the COVID list. He was only cleared to return Sunday. Vitek Vanecek started Game 1, but was hurt in the first period and Craig Anderson picked up the win; Anderson started Game 2 and took the overtime loss.
Washington is just the second team in NHL history to start three different goalies in its first three playoff games, joining the 1986 Winnipeg Jets. It’s only the fourth time a team opened any playoff round with a different starting goalie in each of the first three games, according to NHL Stats.