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Thomas wants to see better chances; Ovechkin gets benched

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TSN.ca Staff
4/20/2012 1:28:41 PM
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The Washington Capitals evened up their first-round series against the Boston Bruins Thursday night with an unlikely victory.

Caps' keeper Braden Holtby stopped 44 of 45 shots for the 2-1 win, continuing his surprise playoff run.

But if you ask the man in the other net, it wasn't that tough of a night for the 22-year-old.

"We got a lot of shots, but as far as high-quality scoring chances [go], I wouldn't say that we got a lot of those," said Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas.

Thomas' latest sound bite comes with the reigning Conn Smythe Trophy-winner finding himself in a tied series despite starting the series with a shutout streak of almost 100 minutes.

With the teams being separated by just one goal in all the series games thus far, Thomas is frustrated by his team's inability to get him one more. He pointed to the team's ability to score four goals in Game 3 as an example of what's gone wrong.

"If you're going to get those shots and get the puck to the net you need people in front of the net screening , tipping and getting rebounds that seems to be our problem in this series is getting that done," he said.

"We did it last game for a little bit – just for the third period – and ended up with a win out of it. We're having a hard time doing that." His teammates were inclined to agree with their outspoken netminder's assessment.

"We had some chances," said B's forward Patrice Bergeron." That's not good enough. We need to make sure we find a way to create some havoc there but also find the rebounds."

However, he blamed the team's inability to score less on a lack of effort and more on plain bad luck.

"We're there. We're around the net area," he said. "It's not that we're not going it's more that we don't find the loose pucks."

Despite the protestations of his opponents, however, Holtby's efforts can not be overlooked.

Buried behind Michal Neuvirth and Tomas Vokoun for much of the regular season and appearing in just seven regular-season games, Holtby has carried the load for the Caps in the playoffs with a 1.60 goals-against average and .953 save percentage through the first four games of the series.

Perhaps more surprising than Holtby's ability to hold the fort, however, is that the Capitals were able to win such a tight game without a couple of their key offensive weapons.

The team was prepared for a game without Nicklas Backstrom, who was suspended one game for cross-checking Rich Peverley.

It was surprising, though, to see the team keep Alexander Ovechkin on its bench through most of the third period in Thursday's one-goal win. The Russian sniper was limited to just four shifts and a total of 1:58 in the final frame, including a paltry 15 seconds in the final 14 minutes of the third.

Ovechkin, for his part, did not seem rattled by the lack of ice-time.

"It doesn't matter if I'm going to play 10 seconds or five seconds," Ovechkin told Washington Post reporter Katie Carrera. "Most important thing is [the] team result."

With a goal and three assists in the series so far, Ovechkin has factored into more than half the Capitals' goals in the 2012 playoffs, including assisting on Alexander Semin's game-winner on Thursday.

Tim Thomas (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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