Haggerty's Bruins-Capitals preview: Game 3

717472.jpg

Haggerty's Bruins-Capitals preview: Game 3

WASHINGTON, DC With the series switching scenes to Washington, the Bruins get to show their road worthiness against a Capitals team thats been pretty good at home this year. Boston has witnessed the shot-blocking ways of the Caps skaters and experienced the 1-4 trap employed by Washington coach Dale Hunter, and say theyre ready to make adjustments against the Caps.

The bottom line: the Bruins need to win at least one of the two games in the Nations Capitals to reclaim home ice advantage and wrest control of the series. They need to be better on the power play, the need to show more grit in front of the net and the Bs defenseman need to find a way to snake more shots through the tangled trees of Washington defenders.

We just need to be more committed in certain areas of our game, said Zdeno Chara. Once we do that its going to be a much better feel on the ice. We just need to be better and more committed.

We all know its the playoffs and aint going to be easy. There are going to be some losses. You just need to put them behind you, regroup on the days in between and get ready for the game days.

With all of the criticism of Bostons top six forwards by their coach and the inordinate amount of praise going toward Washington goaltender Braden Holtby over the first two games, itll be up to the Bruins to reverse the course of conversation in a series that still has both teams minding their manners.

That may change in Game 3 if the Bruins hope to exert their will against a Capitals team thats been surprisingly non-compliant.

PLAYER NEEDING HIS TIRED PUMPED: No points in two games against the Capitals and little offensive involvement for Tyler Seguin in Game 2 despite 26:04 of ice time against Washington. Its time for the 20-year-old to start becoming a game-changing offensive force after watching his team struggle to total two goals in their first two games against the Caps. Seguin needs to battle harder and better in the offensive zone while fighting for pucks and possession it was far too easy for the Caps players to wrestle the puck away from him when he slowed down on the gas pedal.

DRESSING ROOM MANTRA HEADED INTO THE GAME: Theyre going to be angry at him? I think everybody is angry at him because hes so good. You guys know him almost as well as I do. He doesnt give a shoot about that stuff. It doesnt bother him at all. Tuukka Rask when asked if he expects the Washington fans and their ObamaWhite House-themed chants to throw Tim Thomas off his game.

KEY MATCHUP: The thing to watch is whether Dale Hunter can get the matchups he wants with last change in his building. Clearly hed like to get Alex Ovechkin away from Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, and it will be up to Claude Julien to either split his defensemen or stay the course with different combinations out on the ice. The one real negative: Hunter is going to be able to get offensive lines out on the ice when the Greg ZanonJoe Corvo tandem is put out there at points during the game. Watch out for those scenarios.

STAT TO WATCH: 49 the number of blocked shots for Washington after two games leads the entire NHL postseason field. Nobody saw that coming and its been a big part of Braden Holtby shining for the Capitals.

INJURIES: Tuukka Rask (groin strainabdomen strain) is working out with the team and close to a return. Nathan Horton (mild concussion) has been shut down for the postseason. Adam McQuaid (headeye) has missed six of the last seven games with an upper body injury and didnt make the trip to Washington DC.

ForWashington: injured goalies, Michal Neuvirth, practiced Sunday, but the other, Tomas Vokoun, did not. When asked about his goaltending situation, Dale Hunter said that Holtby "is our goalie" when either Neuvirth or Vokoun gets healthy.

GOALTENDING MATCH-UP: Its a battle of goalies that have been very good through the first two games. Tim Thomas has a .964 save percentage and a 0.83 goals against along with a shutout in Game 1, but will be facing the Obama masks and White House signs for the first time in the series. Meanwhile Brad Holtby has become the darling of Washington hockey with a .973 save percentage and 0.83 goals against average in the first two contests. Hes saved 72 of 74 shots and has matched Thomas stop for stop throughout the first two games of the series. Hell need to continue being that good if the Caps are planning on playing the shot-blocking, gritty style theyve employed in the first couple of games.

Red Sox celebration quickly washes away walk-off loss

red_sox_celebration_092816.jpg

Red Sox celebration quickly washes away walk-off loss

NEW YORK -- It had the potential to be the most awkward celebration ever.

In the top of the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium, before their game was complete, the Red Sox became American League East champions, by virtue of one other division rival -- Baltimore -- coming back to beat another -- Toronto -- in the ninth inning.

That eliminated the Blue Jays from the division race, and made the Sox division champs.

But that ninth inning reversal of fortune was about to visit the Red Sox, too.

Craig Kimbrel faced four hitters and allowed a single and three straight walks, leading to a run. When, after 28 pitches, he couldn't get an out, he was lifted for Joe Kelly, who recorded one out, then yielded a walk-off grand slam to Mark Teixeira.

The Yankees celebrated wildly on the field, while the Red Sox trudged into the dugout, beset with mixed emotions.

Yes, they had just lost a game that seemed theirs. But they also had accomplished something that had taken 158 games.

What to do?

The Sox decided to drown their temporary sorrows in champagne.

"As soon as we got in here,'' said Jackie Bradley Jr., "we quickly got over it.''

From the top of the eighth until the start of the bottom of the ninth, the Red Sox seemed headed in a conventional celebration.

A two-run, bases-loaded double by Mookie Betts and a wild pitch -- the latter enabling David Ortiz to slide into home and dislodge the ball from former teammate Tommy Layne's glove --- had given the Sox a 3-0 lead.

Koji Uehara worked around a walk to post a scoreless walk and after the top of the ninth, the Sox called on Craig Kimbrel, who had successfully closed out all but two save opportunities all season.

But Kimbrel quickly allowed a leadoff single to Brett Gardner and then began pitching as though he forgot how to throw strikes. Three straight walks resulted in a run in and the bases loaded.

Joe Kelly got an out, but then Teixeira, for the second time this week, produced a game-winning homer in the ninth. On Monday, he had homered in Toronto to turn a Blue Jays win into a loss, and now, here he was again.

It may have been a rather meaningless victory for the Yankees -- who remain barely alive for the wild card -- but it did prevent them the indignity of watching the Red Sox celebrate on their lawn.

Instead, the Sox wore the shame of the walk-off -- at least until they reached their clubhouse, where the partying began in earnest.

It had taken clubhouse attendants less than five minutes to cover the floor and lockers with plastic protective sheets. In a matter of a few more minutes, the air was filled with a mix of beer and bubbly.

President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski wore a goggles and only socks on his feet.

As the spray reached every inch of the clubhouse, David Ortiz exclaimed: "I'm going to drown in this man.''

Defeat? What defeat?