When Alex Ovechkin sent Game 6 to overtime with a late third-period goal, it appeared as if all the momentum was with the Washington Capitals. They had the Boston Bruins reeling, as it looked like their season was about to come to an end.
But while the Capitals smelled blood, they couldn't put the defending Stanley Cup champions away in the extra session, as one of Boston's young guns who hadn't found the back of the net all series finally scored his first when his team needed it the most.
Tyler Seguin took advantage of a bad pass by Nicklas Backstrom and scored to give the Bruins a 4-3 win and send the series back to Boston on Wednesday for a deciding Game 7. The game will be broadcast on Comcast SportsNet.
"We made a mistake and it cost us a game," Ovechkin said in the locker room afterward.
Backstrom's outlet pass out of his own end was picked off in midair by David Krejci. He quickly dished it to Milan Lucic, who crossed the blue line and found Seguin streaking down the middle. Seguin took the pass in stride, made one move on Braden Holtby to get him to commit, and patiently slid the puck into a open net for the win.
"He just out-waited me. Pretty clear," Holtby said after the game.
"That's a save that I want to make," he continued. "I should have learned from the Chara chance (earlier in OT)."
Capitals coach Dale Hunter said Seguin's speed was the deciding factor.
Nicky went to pass it, they turned it back on us quickly," Hunter said. "They made the play with his speed and he made a heck of a play on the goal."
The game was a back-and-forth affair all afternoon long. Every time the Bruins scored, the Caps would answer back with one of their own.
Yet it appeared that the Bruins finally grabbed control with eight minutes to go in the third thanks to an odd-man rush. Alex Semin failed to get a shot on net from the left side, and the Bruins scrambled the other way. Seguin raced down the right wing and fired a shot that hit Holtby square on his mask. The rebound bounced into the crease, and while the Caps' backcheckers were able to tie up Lucic and Krejci, there was no one to pick up Andrew Ference, who charged hard and shot the puck into the gaping net.
That gave the Bruins a 3-2 lead and silenced the Verizon Center crowd.
But Ovechkin found a way to knot it again and send it to overtime.
The tying goal came in a flash off a faceoff deep in the Bruins' zone. Nicklas Backstrom won the puck at the right faceoff dot clean back to Ovechkin. Ovi stopped the puck with his left skate and kicked it into shooting position, and in the same motion fired a wrister that beat Tim Thomas five-hole with 4:52 remaining.
The Bruins opened the scoring about six minutes into the game when Rich Peverley deflected a Ference shot from the point past Holtby. But the Caps battled back, and just a few minutes later Mike Green scored his first of the postseason when his shot from the top of the left circle caromed off of Bruins defenseman Greg Zanon's shinguard and into the net.
The Bruins reclaimed the lead later in the period with a Krejci goal, and that lead stood up until the final seconds of the second period.
Jason Chimera tied it yet again on a sweet pass from Backstrom. The play started with a long lead pass from Roman Hamrlik out of his own end to Backstrom, who had cut down the right wing. As he skated in he caught Thomas thinking shot, so he sent a perfect backhand pass to the middle, where a streaking Chimera was able to tap it home.
But despite matching the Bruins goal-for-goal, they were never able to take a lead.
So the teams return to Boston for a Game 7, and not only is it troubling that the Bruins will have momentum and the home crowd behind them, but it looks like their top line is starting to heat up at the right time. Krejci, Lucic and Seguin were buzzing all day Sunday. Seguin, in particular, was flying all over the ice. He was snakebitten for much of the series, and Caps fans better hope that his winning goal in OT doesn't lead to more in Game 7.
"It's going to be a 50-50 game, 50-50 chances," Ovechkin said when thinking ahead to Game 7. "We just have to play. Right now, we're sad, but we have a couple days to get some rest before the seventh game."