Washington center Nicklas Backstrom took one shot from Tim Thomas and put a bigger one by him in the Capitals' 2-1 victory against the Bruins in double overtime yesterday at the Garden.

Backstrom provided the decisive goal at 2:56 of the second extra period to even the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series at 1-1. The teams will do battle again Monday in Washington.

Backstrom had been a source of extreme irritation for Thomas for two periods and most of the third. Thomas struck back at Backstrom with unabashed authority with 2:26 to play in regulation.

Backstrom was on the doorstep poking away at a loose puck and continued doing so after the whistle. Backstrom infuriated the Bruins goalie. Thomas went on the attack and mashed Backstrom square in the puss with his blocker. Before he could respond, Backstrom was wrestled to the ice by David Krejci.

"I was trying to get the puck in the net," the soft-spoken Backstrom said with a mischievous smile. "The puck was loose in front and, I don't know, maybe he thought I was banging at his pads, but it happens. I got a lot of things to my head in this game, but that is how it is in the playoffs.