WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 19: Braden Holtby #70 of the Washington Capitals makes a save against the Boston Bruins in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Verizon Center on April 19, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
The Boston Bruins' power play was atrocious a year ago in their first-round series against the Montreal Canadiens, going 0-for-21 with the man advantage. Yet they still found a way to win the series in seven games and eventually win the Stanley Cup.
It can't possibly happen two years in a row, can it?
In Game 4 on Thursday night in Washington, the Bruins went 0 for 1 on the power play, meaning they've now gone scoreless with the extra man in all four games of the series (0-for-12).
And on this night, it was the power play that made the difference for the Capitals. Alex Semin's twisted wrister from the left circle turned out to be the game-winner as the Caps downed the Bruins 2-1 to tie up the series at two games apiece.
Semin's goal came with Boston's top penalty killer and faceoff man, Patrice Bergeron, in the box. The Caps took advantage. Keith Aucoin -- filling in for the suspended Nicklas Backstrom on the power-play unit, gave the puck to Semin in the corner to the right of goalie Tim Thomas. Semin wandered to the middle of the circle, but never tipped his hand that he was going to shoot. As soon as Thomas started thinking pass, Semin whipped a hard wrister high glove side that sailed past Thomas and into the net.
It was Semin's second goal in two games, and could be a sign that the enigmatic winger is catching fire at the right time.
Even when the Bruins and Caps were playing at even strength, Boston couldn't figure out how to solve Braden Holtby. The rookie goalie stopped 45 of 46 shots on this night, continuing his masterful playoff run.
He made several big glove saves throughout the night, including one on Bergeron as time expired in the third and the Bruins pressing for the tying goal.
"He stood tall and kicked out a lot of rubber tonight," Caps coach Dale Hunter said after the game.
Holtby had to stand tall in net because he was getting most of the action on this night. The Bruins fired nearly 50 shots on him, while the Capitals' offense managed just 21 shots on Thomas at the other end.
As luck would have it, the very first shot the Caps took went in. Just 1:22 into the first period, Brooks Laich and Marcus Johansson found themselves clear on a 2-on-1 against forward Brian Rolston after a Bruins' defensive breakdown at center ice.
Laich skated down the left wing and waited for a clear lane to dish the puck to Johansson. As Rolston struggled to fill the gap, Johansson calmly took the pass and fired a wrister high glove-side to beat Thomas.
The lead stood for a while, but Boston was able to tie it with just under seven minutes to go in the first. That's when a Caps' defensive breakdown led to the Bruins' own 2-on-1. Rich Peverley cut down the right wing with speed, but John Erskine -- playing in his first game of the postseason -- cut off the passing lane by sliding on the ice. With no chance for a pass, Peverley opted to shoot instead and somehow got the puck between Holtby's pads.
But that was all Holtby would allow on this night. He was calm, cool and collected the rest of the game, despite being peppered with shot after shot from around the perimeter.
"I love watching that," defenseman Karl Alzner said. "The best part about it, he makes a big glove save, drops the puck and leans on his post. He makes it look so easy. I think as a player that's got to be frustrating when he makes it look as easy as he does."
The series now shifts back to Boston, where Bruins fans are going to wonder where the power has gone. Saturday's game will start at 3 p.m. on NBC.