3 - 2 Final - 2OT
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Laich lifts Caps over Bruins in SO

Mar 30, 2012 - 3:28 AM
Boston, MA (Sports Network) - Brooks Laich's goal in the fourth round of the shootout lifted the Washington Capitals to a 3-2 victory over the Boston Bruins at TD Garden.

Dennis Wideman and Marcus Johansson scored in regulation for the Capitals, who pulled even with the idle Buffalo Sabres for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Tomas Vokoun got the start in net after returning from a six-game absence because of a groin injury and stopped all seven shots he faced, but was replaced by Michal Neuvirth with 1:35 left in the first period after aggravating the injury.

Neuvirth stopped 19-of-21 shots in relief to earn the win.

David Krejci and Andrew Ference tallied goals as Boston had its three-game win streak snapped. Tim Thomas made 21 saves for the Bruins, who could have clinched a playoff spot with a win.

"You have to give credit where credit is due. They are fighting for the playoffs and played a really strong defensive game," said Ference. "Their (offensive) firepower gets a lot of credit, but they play a good system."

Krejci was stopped by Neuvirth to open the shootout before Matt Hendricks beat Thomas to give Washington the advantage.

Tyler Seguin's backhander in the second round pulled the Bruins even, and after Alex Ovechkin missed the net with his attempt, Patrice Bergeron and Alexander Semin traded goals in the third round to keep the game alive.

Rich Peverley's wrister was then kicked aside by Neuvirth, leading to Laich's game-winning backhander that sailed past Thomas' glove and into the top-right corner.

After neither team could light the lamp through two periods, Washington recorded two quick goals in the third period to seemingly take control.

The first came at the 7:59 mark of the third when Johansson sent a pass from along the right boards to Wideman in the slot and he finished with a hard wrister that went through a screen and into the top-left corner.

Less than two minutes later, Ovechkin and Johansson raced down the ice on a 2- on-1 rush after an errant Boston pass in the offensive zone. Ovechkin bolted down the left side of the ice with the puck before flipping a cross-ice pass to Johansson at the right circle. He broke his stick while one-timing the puck past Thomas 9:54 into the third.

But the Bruins were able to make it a one-goal game with 3:10 left in the third on Krejci's redirection of a Zdeno Chara wrister from the high slot, and then netted the equalizer with 1:16 left in regulation with a Ference slap shot from the blue line that sailed past two Washington defenders before slipping under Neuvirth's left arm, forcing overtime.

Thomas made three saves in the extra period while Neuvirth stopped the one shot he faced to necessitate the shootout.

"We kept them in check pretty much until the last couple minutes," Capitals head coach Dale Hunter said about Boston. "That's hockey. You have to battle back."

Capitals forward Jason Chimera was called for a five-minute charging penalty and a game misconduct at the 14:00 mark of the first period after racing down the ice and hitting Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid hard into the boards from behind.

McQuaid had to be helped off the ice and into the locker room after the hit as his head made contact with the boards. He did not return.

Boston, though, could not capitalize on the opportunity and the game remained scoreless entering the first intermission.

Neither team would break through in the second period either as Neuvirth made eight saves and Thomas stopped seven shots in the frame. Washington was awarded a power play just past the midpoint of the second after Krejci was whistled for a high sticking penalty, but the Capitals would not even record a shot in the man advantage.

Game Notes

Washington improved to 15-20-4 on the road this season, while Boston fell to 23-13-3 at home...The Capitals won the season series by a mark of 3-1...Boston holds a six-point lead over the Ottawa Senators for the top spot in the Northeast Division.