NHL playoffs: Capitals one step closer to moving on; Bruins outlast Senators

A day after the Western Conference favorites were washed out of the playoff picture with a fourth straight loss, the No. 1 team in the Eastern Conference got one step closer to moving onto the second round. And the Boston Bruins, despite finding themselves victims of the officials for at least the second time in their own series, kept their series alive for at least another game.

The Washington Capitals, with a lightning-fast game-winning goal from Justin Williams in overtime Friday, took a 3-2 series lead against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Ottawa Senators, meanwhile, fired out of the gate in search of a series-clinching win but were ousted in double overtime against the Bruins, who took Game 1 against the Sens and rallied to win their second matchup after being robbed of a potential game-winning OT score.

As another night of playoff hockey wraps up, here are a few things to note:

The Capitals are on their way to an even tougher second round

This is getting a little too far ahead, but even if we assume the Capitals will build off their Friday night OT win, the fourth extra-period battle between the teams this postseason, we cannot assume the Maple Leafs won't take the series to seven games.

And Toronto, at the very least, should be a warning for Washington that a greater challenge is ahead. This is not to say Auston Matthews and the Maple Leafs' driven squad of underdogs can't rally, because they've shown they're capable of beating the Caps -- and beating them again. But one thing is guaranteed: Whether it's Matthews' team or Alex Ovechkin and Co. that move on, an even better play-making offense, not to mention one that will have a little extra rest, awaits in the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Until then, here's Williams handing the Maple Leafs the second fastest OT loss in Toronto's playoff history:

The Bruins beat injuries and controversial calls (oh, and the Senators)

Excuses are usually, well, little more than excuses. And if Boston would have taken Game 1 of its series against a near-100-point team with so-so support as a playoff contender, only to fall out of the playoffs after four straight losses, there clearly would have been some real problems with the banged-up Bruins to address.

But anyone who has watched the Bruins-Senators series would be remiss if they failed to highlight some of the game-altering calls from the officials. In fact, there's an argument to be made that Boston, which got another crafty outing from Tuukka Rask, entered Friday night's double overtime period with what should have been a two-goal advantage. One of the nonexistent goals was the result of an interference call on this Bruins score:

The Bruins, of course, still ended up winning. But the polarizing calls have been nearly as captivating as the series itself. Think about Ottawa's performances without the benefit of some favorable calls, and suddenly it's a lot easier to see why Boston took Game 1 and was initially on track for a great start to the series. The Sens were outdone when it came to giveaways Friday, they struggled to put a dent in Rask in key moments, and now the Bruins will live to see yet another matchup.

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