Defending champions Bruins are on the ropes

Washington's Troy Brouwer (right) celebrates his power play goal with 1:27 left to lead the Capitals past Boston in Game 5. Washington leads the first-round series 3-2.

BOSTON — Troy Brouwer scored on a power play with 1:27 left, giving the Washington Capitals a 4-3 victory Saturday and moving the defending champion Boston Bruins a loss away from elimination.


Brouwer gave the Capitals a 3-2 series lead with his second goal of the playoffs, beating Tim Thomas over the glove with a wrist shot with 37 seconds left on Benoit Pouliot’s slashing penalty.

The Capitals can wrap up the best-of-seven series at home today.

The Bruins have been in this predicament before. They trailed the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 last year in the Stanley Cup finals, then won the last two games on the road to capture their first title since 1972.



In Sunrise, Fla., Kris Ver­steeg scored a goal and set up another, Jose Theodore made 30 saves for his second playoff shutout, and Florida beat New Jersey to move a win away from its first series win in 16 years.

Scottie Upshall also scored for Florida, which leads the Eastern Conference first-round series 3-2. The Panthers’ last series victory came in the 1996 East finals, and they’ll have two chances to snap that drought.

Tomas Kopecky was credited with an empty-net goal with 34 seconds left, after Ilya Kovalchuk impeded his clear path to the net.

Martin Brodeur made 30 saves for New Jersey, which plays host to a win-or-else Game 6 on Tuesday.



In New York, Craig Ander­son stopped 41 shots to make Jason Spezza’s first-period goal stand up, and Ottawa pushed top-seeded New York to the brink of elimination by winning in Game 5.

The Senators, the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Confer­ence, have won two in a row and will have a chance to knock out the Rangers on Monday in Ottawa. If New York can stay alive, the deciding Game 7 would be back at Madison Square Garden on Thursday.

Since New York took a 2-0 lead in the first period of its 3-2 overtime loss in Game 4, Anderson has gone 116 minutes, 32 seconds without allowing a goal.



In St. Louis, Jamie Lan­genbrunner and David Per­ron scored in a 45-second span in the third period, and the Blues woke up in time to put away San Jose and wrap up the first-round series.

Brian Elliott made 26 saves, and Andy McDonald ended all doubt with an empty-net goal in the final minute. St. Louis won a playoff series for the first time in a decade against a franchise that reached the conference finals the past two years.



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