The Montreal Canadiens' shots came in rapid fire in the second period like gunshots at a shooting range.
But the Capitals had the perfect defense for the Habs' vulcanized rubber -- the flashy leather on Semyon Varlamov's glove hand.
Varlamov was a one-man show in the second period Wednesday night, singlehandedly keeping his team in Game 4 long enough for his teammates to solve Carey Price at the other end and escape Canada with two crucial wins, including a 6-3 victory in Game 4 at the Bell Centre.
After the teams drew even at 1 in the first period, the Canadiens came out with their best offensive attack of the series in the second, outshooting the Caps 21-9 in the period. But Varlamov was up to the task, showing off his quick glove hand on numerous Montreal scoring chances. There were lasers from the point. There were bullets from the circles. And there were shots from point-blank range in close. But Varlamov's glove said no, time and time again.
His heroics bided enough time for his teammates to find their game, and with 6.3 seconds to go in the second period the Caps broke the backs of the Habs and their fans.
After all that hard work and after all those shots, Montreal allowed Boyd Gordon and Mike Knuble to skate in on Price on a shorthanded two-on-one. Knuble made the most of the Habs' mistake and buried Gordon's pass to tie the game at 2.
The Canadiens would never recover.
For as well as Montreal played in the second period, that momentum was killed by Knuble's shorty. The Caps came out and dominated the third. They turned the tables on Price, outshooting the Habs 18-6.
The difference: Price couldn't hold off the Caps' attack like Varlamov did a period earlier.
Alex Ovechkin scored his second goal of the game midway through the third period to make it 3-2, and then Jason Chimera added insurance a minute later. The Caps scored two more times, including an empty-netter from Nicklas Backstrom, to put it out of reach.
"This season there have been games where it's tied in the second and we just keep going and get a couple goals in the third," Boudreau said. "We keep pushing forward and know that we have the ability to score."
So the series heads back to Washington Friday for a potential series-clinching Game 5. And they clearly have momentum on their side.
At the same time, the Habs know their season is on life support, but there isn't much hope they'll make it out of Washington alive.