For the 1st time in two decades, the Washington Capitals are heading to the Stanley Cup Final, exactly where they will face this year’s Cinderella group, the expansion Vegas Golden Knights.
The Caps punched their ticket by defeating the Tampa Bay Lighting four- on Wednesday evening in the seventh game of their Eastern Conference Final series. Vegas had previously eliminated the Winnipeg Jets in the Western final.
Washington let Tampa Bay know early that it meant enterprise: Alex Ovechkin scored the opening aim throughout the second minute of play. Andre Burakovsky added two far more in the second period to aid lead the Caps’ victory.
“The 1st aim was quite critical,” stated Ovechkin, who will be playing in his 1st Final. “Following that you could see we have all the momentum on our side. Holts [Washington goalkeeper Braden Holtby] was unstoppable these days. He was particular. Everyone was all in. Everyone was sacrificing their bodies. I consider we all deserve the win.”
It is the 1st time Washington has sophisticated to the Stanley Cup Final because 1998, when the Caps had been swept by Detroit.
Prior to Wednesday night’s victory, Ovechkin had by no means produced it previous the second round throughout his 13-year profession.
“I consider Ovie has been on a mission,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz stated. “They wanted this game, no query.”
Holtby produced his presence felt throughout the winner-take-all showdown, stopping 29 shots and handing the Lightning, who led the NHL in ambitions throughout the normal season, their second straight shutout.
The Lightning did not score a aim in the final 159 minutes, 27 seconds of the series – a stretch of practically eight periods.
Washington beat Tampa Bay 3 occasions on the road to safe their spot in the Final against the Golden Knights, enhancing to eight-two away from residence this postseason.
Following Ovechkin’s early score, Burakovsky – who played two games in the 1st round against Columbus ahead of sitting out 10 straight with an upper-physique injury – added a aim on a breakaway against Andrei Vasilevskiy at eight:59 of the second period to turn into the 17th player to score a aim for Washington in the playoffs this year — 4 shy of the NHL record.
The winger scored once more on an additional breakaway to give the Capitals a three- edge heading into the final period, with Nicklas Backstrom adding a aim on an empty-netter to total the rout.
Ovechkin described Wednesday’s faceoff as most likely the “greatest game in my life.”
“What a game. What an knowledge. We had a lot of guys pitching in,” winger T.J. Oshie stated. “The greatest guy of all had to be Holts. He played amazing, back to back shutouts.”
Tampa Bay lost its 1st two games in the series, but fought back to win 3 straight and take a three-two lead. But, the Capitals proved to be also a lot in Game six, shutting out the Lightning three- and pushing the series to a winner-take-all matchup on Wednesday — which yielded a equivalent outcome as Washington kept its foot on the gas.
The Lightning had numerous missed possibilities to score in Game 7, as a couple shots rebounded off the post and Yanni Gourde failed to get his stick on a loose puck in front on an empty net. The team’s final aim came 33 seconds into the second period of Game five, which the Lightning went on to win three-two.
“We’re right here to win as group, no matter who gets the credit,” stated Holtby, the fifth goalie to provide a Game 7 shutout to clinch a spot in the Stanley Cup Final.
“I felt we could have won every single game,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper stated. “We ran into a challenging Washington group that was most likely feeling the very same point, and as soon as you get this far you have most likely carried out some magical factors on the way.”
It was the 33rd time a Game 7 matchup determined who sophisticated to the Stanley Cup Final, with the Property group 21-12 in these conditions.
Tampa Bay also played Game 7 in the Eastern Conference final in 2015, when they blanked the New York Rangers, and once more two years ago, when they lost two-1 to Pittsburgh.
Each of these deciding games had been on the road. The Lightning had by no means lost a Game 7 at residence ahead of Wednesday evening.
“It really is going to take a handful of days to digest this. It really is challenging to sit right here appropriate now and consider of good factors and how it was a fairly fantastic season,” Lightning captain Steven Stamkos stated. “It does not appear that way when you have this group — and we’ve been to this position ahead of — and you can not locate a way to give your self a possibility a win. We believed we had that group. It really is just an empty feeling appropriate now.”
Now, the Capitals set their sights on the Golden Knights, who hope to cumulate their prolific inaugural season run by hoisting the Stanley Cup trophy.
“I really feel quite satisfied, but we’re not completed but,” Ovechkin stated. “We’ve been waiting for this moment a lengthy time.”
An expansion group hasn’t produced it to the Final because 1968, when the St. Louis Blues beat out 5 other NHL newcomers to win the West Division, as it was then referred to as.
The Knights went two- against the Capitals in the normal season, winning three- at residence on Dec. 23 and four-three at Washington on Feb. four.
Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final will be played in Las Vegas on Monday evening.
The Connected Press contributed to this report.