Boston Bruins left wing Taylor Hall (71) is tripped by Washington Capitals defenseman Justin Schultz (2) during the first period of Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series Saturday, May 15, 2021, in Washington. Schultz received a two-minute penalty on the play. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Nic Dowd scores in OT, Capitals beat Bruins 3-2 in Game 1

Capitals 3 Bruins 2 (OT)

(Washington leads series 1-0)

WASHINGTON (AP) — T.J. Oshie’s goal song, John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” echoed through Capital One Arena and its 25% capacity crowd. It turned out the credit technically belonged elsewhere, but Capitals fans were in no mood to nitpick.

Nic Dowd’s deflection of Oshie’ shot from the blue line found the back of the net 4:41 into overtime, giving the Capitals a 3-2 victory over the Boston Bruins on Saturday night in Game 1 of the first-round playoff series.

The Capitals weathered the loss of starting goaltender Vitek Vanecek to a lower-body injury early on, with backup Craig Anderson making 21 saves and allowing only a power-play goal.

As four Capitals players entered the offensive zone, Tom Wilson shuttled a pass back to Oshie, who blasted a one-timer on net. Dowd extended his stick for the deflection, and soon the puck trickled through Tuukka Rask’s leg pads and over the 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.

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

Vanecek hurt himself on the play and Anderson, who turns 40 on Friday, replaced him. He had not played a postseason game since 2017 and saw action in just 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 Dmitry Orlov in the box for high-sticking, the Bruins converted on their third power-play chance of the night with 3:22 left in the second. David Pastrnak’s shot redirected off Ritchie’s skate and through Anderson’s legs, barely making it over the line before a defender came in to clear it.

OSHIE STEPS UP AS CENTER

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.

NEW FACES IN NEW PLACES

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.

UP NEXT

The Capitals host Game 2 on Monday at 7:30 before the teams head to Boston for Games 3 and 4 on Wednesday and Friday.

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