BOSTON (AP) — Chris Kelly scored on a long slap shot 1:18 into overtime and the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins beat the Washington Capitals 1-0 Thursday night in the opener of their first-round playoff series.
Braden Holtby made 29 saves for the Capitals.
Tim Thomas stopped all 17 shots he faced for Boston.
The game was physical and scoreless until Thomas turned back a Washington attack early in the extra period. Brian Rolston dropped it for Benoit Pouliot to clear the zone and he pushed it up to Kelly, who slapped it over Holtby’s glove for the game-winner.
The reigning Vezina and Conn Smythe Trophy-winner, Thomas had an easy game for much of the night, including a middle period in which Washington managed just two shots on goal.
Instead, the goaltending star was Holtby, a third-stringer making his playoff debut because Tomas Vokoun and Michal Neuvirth were injured. But he kept Washington in the game while the Bruins peppered him with shots.
After Holtby was beaten for the one and only time, Washington star Alex Ovechkin consoled him on the ice before heading to the locker room.
Meanwhile, the Bruins celebrated their first victory in their quest to become the first repeat Stanley Cup champions since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997-98.
NOTES: The last two times these teams have met in the playoffs, the winner has gone on to reach the Stanley Cup finals. The Bruins made it in 1990, and the Capitals in 1998. ... Washington’s Dale Hunter coached his first NHL playoff game tonight. As a player, Hunter had 42 goals and 76 assists with 729 penalty minutes and 23 fighting majors in 186 career playoff games with Quebec, Washington and Colorado. ... The NCAA champion Boston College hockey team was honored during a break in the first period. ... The Capitals, the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference, did not clinch a playoff berth until the final week of the season. They beat Boston in three of their four meetings this season, including both visits to TD Garden.