Kelly shocked by best shot
Surprise came on wing and prayer
If anything, Chris Kelly figured his shot was tipped, or deflected, or that something had sent it flying in a direction he hadn’t intended.
He was rushing down the left side all by his lonesome, just barely a minute into overtime, when Capitals defenseman Dennis Wideman crept into the picture, stretching out his stick desperately, trying to make Kelly’s look at least slightly a less clear one.
On a night when the Bruins pumped shot after shot at the net with no luck, this was probably their best look.
The shot that Kelly ripped off was still a dart. It whizzed by Washington rookie goalie Braden Holtby into the upper right corner of the net, the breakthrough for the Bruins in their series opener.
“I think I was probably the most surprised in the building,’’ Kelly said.
The game’s lone goal came at 1:18 and after Holtby had stopped the Bruins’ first 29 shots.
Kelly was surprised it went in after it was deflected, and surprised he was able to find the net after streaking down the wing.
“I just happened to pick up speed wide and tried to put it on the net,’’ Kelly said. “I think it went off the defenseman a little bit, or changed up a little bit.’’
He was surprised he was even able to beat Holtby.
“Goalies are so good now that the days of going down the wing and beating a goalie with a shot are long passed,’’ he said. “So I was pleasantly surprised to see it go in.’’
It happened so quickly that after the game Holtby couldn’t figure it out either.
“I don’t really know what happened on it,’’ Holtby said. “I kind of lost it a bit. I really don’t know.’’
It was so sudden, Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said, “I didn’t really see the shot where it went. I just saw the net moving at the end. But it doesn’t matter how it went in. In the end, we got the win.’’
For Bruins coach Claude Julien, it was simple.
“In overtime, every shot is a good shot,’’ Julien said. “I thought Chris did a great job taking that shot and not trying to make a cute play.’’
The sequence started with a Tim Thomas pad save. In the span of six seconds, Thomas kicked it out to Joe Corvo, who found Brian Rolston, who in turn hit Benoit Pouliot near center ice as Kelly was burning up the left side.
As it unfolded, Thomas said he had no doubts that Kelly would finish off the play.
“I knew he was going to score,’’ Thomas said.
The Bruins had been chipping away all night, coming up empty on four power plays.
It was the 10th postseason goal for Kelly, who scored five goals during last year’s Stanley Cup run.
“It was obviously a great feeling,’’ Kelly said. “I thought we did a great job in the first two periods of getting the puck to the net and kind of generating some traffic, but we got away from that a bit in the third period and the shot total showed that. But it’s always nice to end it fairly early.’’
His reward came in the form of neckwear. After the game he wore a thick padlocked chain wrapped around his neck. He explained that, like the throwback jacket that Andrew Ference bought on eBay last season and became sort of an MVP trophy after each postseason win, the necklace was another one of Ference’s ideas.
“Andrew made something that symbolizes the team, the chain, try not to be the weak link,’’ Kelly said. “It’s one of those things that you pass out after a good game. It’s one of those things that’s all in good fun.’’
Thomas said, “He wasn’t the weak link tonight.’’
And he had the bling to prove it.
Julian Benbow can be reached at email@example.com.