WASHINGTON — The two most prominent Bruins of this generation, one wearing still-unfamiliar red, met at center ice. They gave each other equal space, as they did for 14 years in the Boston dressing room, smacked hands emphatically, and embraced each other around the neck.
Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara, Black and Gold captains present and past, lingered for a few seconds before moving on. They will catch up later this summer. One of them has more business to handle.
A series that felt inevitable finished quickly on Sunday. Two goals from Bergeron and another from David Pastrnak, plus 40 saves from Tuukka Rask, vanquished the Capitals in Game 5, sending the Bruins into the second round with a 3-1 win.
One of the hottest teams in hockey down the stretch, the Bruins will get a chance to cool their heels for a few days. The Penguins and Islanders (2-2) are now a best-of-three. That series will play out Monday, Wednesday, and if necessary, Friday.
“We’ve been keeping an eye on it,” said coach Bruce Cassidy, noting his club will welcome what could be nearly a week’s rest. “I think guys have their eye on the prize, so to speak, and they’ll be fine whenever they tell us we can play again.”
They became the second team this postseason to advance, knocking out Chara and the Caps hours after Torey Krug and the Blues were broomed away by the juggernaut Avalanche.
It was their first playoff win since beating the Hurricanes in five games in last year’s Toronto bubble, a series Rask departed early for a family emergency. Boston’s ace is silencing doubters anew, stopping 159 of 169 shots this series (.941), with a 1.81 goals against average. Of the 10 goals he allowed the Caps, three beat him clean. One of those, their only strike in Game 5, was a hot rebound that Conor Sheary deposited upstairs.
“He just seemed very composed in there and sure of himself,” Cassidy said. “It makes it easier for I think everybody when you see your goalie completely under control, and you see they’re not going to get a pea by him for the most part.”
He had help from his penalty kill, which snuffed out all four Washington power plays and finished the series 18 for 21 (85.7 percent). Alex Ovechkin had two PPGs, one of them off a Bruins skate.
“That was one of the differences,” Rask said. “We really killed that power play. We made it tough for them to enter the zone a lot, and we were pressuring a lot. ... I think we blocked close to 10 shots that were absolute bullets.”
Outshot, 41-19, in Game 5, the Bruins scored twice in a three-shot span in the second. Trade deadline acquisition Mike Reilly, playing in his first playoff series, provided assists on both Pastrnak’s and Bergeron’s strikes, at 2:28 and 14:05.
Pastrnak’s goal was a blend of his remarkable skill and poor decisions by the Capitals. Nic Dowd gave the Bruins a freebie by rimming the puck to the other side, with no teammates in that area code. Reilly pounced on it, feeding Pastrnak with a short dish. No. 88 did the rest. Attacking on his off wing, he easily danced around Dowd and Nick Jensen. Ilya Samsonov played it terribly, staying paddle-down on his near post as Pastrnak slipped around him with a forehander.
“Definitely a highlight-reel goal,” Cassidy said. “It definitely gives you a boost and I think the other team gets deflated a little bit.”
Even more so for Washington: It outshot the visitors, 11-1, in the 12-odd minutes after Pastrnak’s goal, but Samsonov allowed a backbreaker. Bergeron beat his blocker cleanly from 44 feet out.
The Capitals halved the lead 11 seconds into the third, Sheary jumping on a rare rebound by Rask and poor slot coverage by the Bruins. The Capitals emptied the tank, but Bergeron provided the dagger.
Bergeron, who was on the ice when the Caps made it 2-1, picked off T.J. Oshie’s backhand clearing attempt and zipped one over Samsonov’s blocker.
“Bergy’s never happy when a puck goes in and he’s on the ice,” Cassidy said. “Certainly a guy that’s led this team for a lot of years and this is his first year with the ‘C’ on it so he wants to sort of put his signature on this club. … I’m sure he’s going a little, digging a little bit deeper if that’s even possible for him.”
The Capitals nearly made it 3-2 with 5:37 left, Lars Eller roofing one from a sharp angle on the power play. The only reason Rask was late to slide over was because Evgeny Kuznetsov needlessly and unwisely cross-checked him to the ice. Officials conferred and wiped out the goal.
The goal judge in D.C. seemed hopeful for a comeback, flicking on the red light for a brief second on a Justin Schultz shot that hit the outside of the netting.
A few minutes later, it was lights out.