Bruins’ Craig Smith wins 2nd OT game three after Capitals miscommunication
Sometimes overtime games end with pretty goals. Sometimes they end with a slap from the circle. Sometimes they end on rocky and pointless goals. The Bruins’ goal to complete Game 3 of their Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Capitals was none of that.
Less than six minutes after the start of second overtime on Wednesday, young Capitals goaltender Ilya Samsonov slipped behind the net to play a Kevan Miller dump-in. He left the puck in the trapeze, but instead of his teammate picking it up, the Bruins’ Craig Smith did. The Boston forward then rolled him up and put him behind Samsonov for a 3-2 win for the Bruins.
After the red light, it was obvious that there had been poor communication between Samsonov, who was making his first NHL playoff start, and defenseman Justin Schultz. It looked like Samsonov expected Schultz to continue behind the net while Schultz, who took off a bit, perhaps thought the keeper was going to blame him with Smith in support.
As the Bruins celebrated, cameras caught Washington captain Alex Ovechkin yelling at someone. The assumption is that, because he appears to be screaming in Russian, he was aiming his doom at 24-year-old Samsonov. Ovechkin scored the first goal of the game.
“It’s a tough end,” said Capitals bench boss Peter Laviolette. “You can tell just by the two movements of the players that there was a communication problem there … It’s a tough ending but I thought Sammy had just spent the 14 or 15 days off, I thought he came in and played a heck of a game. “
Samsonov had been absent since May 1 due to COVID-19 protocols. He became the third goaltender used by the Capitals already in the playoffs. Vitek Vanecek started the first game but remained injured in the first period. Craig Anderson entered the game and took the win before starting in Game 2. The goaltender, soon to be 40, was given a day of maintenance on Wednesday; Pheonix Copley supported Samsonov.
“He’s been huge tonight for us so I wouldn’t say anything other than hold my head up,” Caps defenseman John Carlson said when asked after the game what he would say backstop , who made 40 saves. “There’s a lot more hockey to be played. He did a great job for us tonight. If he wasn’t standing, we probably wouldn’t have gotten to this point.”
Game 3 marked the third overtime first leg of the series. Nic Dowd scored the game winner for Washington in Game 1 and Brad Marchand of the Bruins won his team’s game 2 to tie the series. With the winner from Smith, the Beantown boys now have a 2-1 lead in the East Division first-round series, among the top seven. Game 4 is Friday at TD Garden in Boston.