Bruins push Capitals to brink of elimination with smothering Game 4

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So much for this Bruins – Capitals series being nothing but overtime games.

After going to OT for three straight contests, the Bruins made it clear that they had control of Game 4 over the Capitals. Granted, the Capitals scratched and clawed to keep it close for a while.

With this 4-1 Game 4 win, the Bruins pushed the Capitals to the brink of elimination with a 3-1 series lead. The Caps don’t have much time to find answers, and that’s not great, because this contest inspires a lot of questions.

Miller hospitalized by Orlov hit

Initially, Dmitry Orlov‘s late hit on Kevan Miller drew a major penalty. After a review process, that Orlov major was rescinded. Instead, the Bruins received a two-minute roughing penalty, while the Capitals were whistled for a roughing double-minor following the ensuing hostilities.

Was that the right call? Judge for yourself:

Miller didn’t just leave Bruins – Capitals Game 4, he was hospitalized:

The Bruins had been dominating play without scoring a goal. For more than 18 minutes in Game 4, the Bruins kept the Capitals without a shot on goal, while Boston generated 12. It wasn’t until that power-play opportunity that Boston could break through.

Brad Marchand ended up putting the Bruins up 1-0.

Bruins gain some breathing room vs. Capitals in Game 4, take 3-1 series lead

Early in the third period of Game 4, the Bruins created some distance ahead of the Capitals. David Pastrnak scored a potential confidence-builder on the power play, then Charlie Coyle made it 3-0 on a funky rebound.

After that Pastrnak PPG, the Bruins were 2-for-4 on the PP, while the Capitals were 0-for-4. That eventually changed, as Alex Ovechkin scored his second power-play goal of the series to break Washington’s special teams slump. Ovechkin now boasts 71 career playoff goals.

Ultimately, the Capitals finished 1-for-7 on the power play, while the Bruins went 3-for-5 in Game 4. Considering Washington’s struggles to get anything going 5-on-5, that has to change.

Bruins in the driver’s seat

While the Capitals gained some life when they finally scored in Game 4, the Bruins didn’t really let up. They carried a lot of the play on Friday, forcing Ilya Samsonov to make some tough saves even when it was 3-1.

That pressure eventually paid off even more, as Matt Grzelcyk scored a booming PPG.

If Boston takes care of business in Game 5, they could gain some valuable rest.

That said, this Washington team has responded to challenges plenty of times before, and cannot be disregarded.

It just looks like it could be quite the mountain to climb against a Bruins team that can beat you in a number of ways.

CAPITALS – BRUINS FIRST ROUND PLAYOFF SERIES SCHEDULE
Game 1: Capitals 3, Bruins 2 (OT)
Game 2: Bruins 4, Capitals 3 (OT)
Game 3: Bruins 3, Capitals 2 (2 OT)
Friday, May 21:
Bruins 4, Capitals 1.
Sunday, May 23:
Bruins at Capitals, 7 p.m. ET (USA Network)
*Tuesday, May 25:
Capitals at Bruins TBD
*Thursday, May 27:
Bruins at Capitals TBD

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk sidelined by ankle sprain

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CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.

The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.

The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.

The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.

Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.

Lightning donate $2 million to Hurricane Ian relief efforts

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TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning and team owner Jeff Vinik are donating $2 million toward Hurricane Ian relief efforts.

The NHL team announced that $1 million each will be donated by the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation and the Vinik Family Foundation.

“This is a tragic situation for many families and communities across the state of Florida, but especially so in the southwest region of the state,” Vinik said in a statement released by the team. “In times like these the most important thing we can do is support one another, and we hope this donation will help families recover and rebuild in the months to come.”

Ian made landfall Wednesday on Florida’s Gulf Coast, south of the Tampa Bay area. The Lightning postponed two home preseason games and moved the club’s training camp to Nashville, Tennessee, during the storm.

Maple Leafs sign defenseman Rasmus Sandin to 2-year deal

Rasmus Sandin
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TORONTO — Rasmus Sandin has signed a two-year, $2.8 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the club announced on Thursday.

The 22-year-old from Sweden was the 29th overall selection in the 2018 draft. Sandin had 16 points in 51 games with Toronto last season. He’s played in 88 career regular-season games, with six goals and 22 assists, and has one goal in five playoff games.

“Got a great set of tools,” fellow defenseman Jake Muzzin said. “With experience, I think they’re only going to get better.”

The signing comes as the Leafs’ blueliners been hit hard by injuries. Muzzin has been dealing with a back issue, and Timothy Liljegren recently had surgery for a hernia.

Toronto then lost Jamie Benn (groin) and Carl Dahlstrom (shoulder) in Wednesday’s 3-0 preseason victory over the Montreal Canadiens, pressing forwards Calle Jarnkrok and Alexander Kerfoot into defensive roles for two periods.