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Charles Krupa/AP/Press Association Images Boston netminder Tim Thomas tells Bruins fans to keep smiling
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Stanley Cup: Champs Boston dumped out in first round by Washington
The Capitals beat the Bruins in overtime of game seven to advance to the conference semi-finals and a possible date with the New York Rangers.

THE CURSE OF the Stanley Cup champions continues after the Boston Bruins were knocked out in the first-round of the play-offs on Wednesday night.

Boston lost 2-1 to the Washington Capitals in overtime of game seven. The result finally separates the teams after the closest series in NHL history – every game was settled by one goal.

The giant-killer on the night was Capital’s auxiliary forward Joel Ward, who followed up a Mike Knuble shot with a back-hand past Tim Thomas in the Boston goal.

The result means another of this year’s fancied sides has been eliminated at the first stage. The Vancouver Canucks and Pittsburgh Penguins have already fallen by the wayside.

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Washington hit the front when Matt Hendricks did enough in front of a screened Thomas to deflect a point shot in.

Tyler Seguin levelled the scores in the second period but Braden Holtby in the Washington goal was solid otherwise, blocking a further 30 attempts. Ward then stepped up in overtime.

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Ward, who had only recorded 18 points in the regular season, kept up with Knuble’s break in overtime and slotted home to sent Washington into the next round. After the game, Ward said:

I’ve done it this way my whole life. I’ve always been the underdog. I’ve never been a top guy. But I never doubted myself.

They will face the winners of the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators contest, which concludes on Thursday night.

The last team to successfully defend a Stanley Cup was the Detroit Red Wings in 1998.

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