BOSTON Joel Ward slammed home a rebound at 2:57 of overtime to give Washington a 2-1 victory over Boston on Wednesday night, sending the Capitals to the second round of the playoffs and ending the defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins hopes of a repeat.
Rookie Braden Holtby stopped 31 shots for Washington in Game 7 the seventh one-goal game of the series. Matt Hendricks scored the Capitals other goal.
Tyler Seguin scored, and Tim Thomas made 26 saves for Boston.
It was the first time in NHL history that a playoff series had seven games determined by one goal. Four of the games went to overtime.
Hendricks scored midway through the first period, and Seguin tied it in the second. It stayed that way through a scoreless third, with Washington killing off a penalty in the final three minutes to send the game into overtime.
Patrice Bergeron had a chance to win it in the first minute of the extra period, but he couldnt get off a solid shot from Holtbys right. Two minutes later, the Capitals broke into the Boston zone with former Bruin Mike Knuble leading a 2-on-1.
Knuble shot, and Thomas left the rebound out where Ward could reach it with his backhander.
The building fell silent as the Capitals celebrated just their third postseason series win since a run to the Stanley Cup finals in 1998. Some fans littered the ice with debris, but the Bruins waited for the postgame handshake.
Thomas, bringing up the rear, gave Holtby a tap on the shoulder and said, Great job, kid.
No team has repeated as Stanley Cup champions since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997-98.
The Capitals earned more than 100 points in the previous three seasons, leading the NHL with 121 in 2010, but they had little to show for it once the postseason started. They won just two series over that span and have not made it out of the Eastern Conference semifinals since 1998, when they made it to the Stanley Cup finals but were swept by Detroit.
This years regular season wasnt as successful, but the playoffs have a chance to be even better.
Their second-round opponent wont be determined until after a pair of Game 7s tonight.