The Capitals forced the Eastern Conference Finals to seven games on Monday night against the Lightning and traveled to Tampa for the deciding game. And at Amalie Arena Washington would defeat Tampa Bay to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in twenty (long) years.
Here’s Wednesday night's Plus/Minus:
Plus: The Capitals were led by their Captain early and often, Alex Ovechkin scoring his fourth career game seven goal a minute into the contest.
Minus: You’re joking, right?
Ten more notes on the game.
- 62 seconds into the contest Ovechkin put the Capitals ahead with a missile from fifty feet. Evgeny Kuznetsov put the puck on a platter for Ovechkin after a smart offensive zone entry from Tom Wilson. All three players picked up a point on the play.
- Later in the first frame Devante Smith-Pelly was felled by a Braydon Coburn slap shot that hit Smith-Pelly behind his left ear. He would return to the bench later in the first after a brief inspection in Washington’s locker room.
- Wilson and Coburn would square off in a showstopping fight at center ice before the first intermission could arrive. Both combatants had just finished serving Unsportsmanlike Conduct minors before ditching their gloves as soon as they returned to play.
- Early in the second period Yanni Gourde had the puck alone atop the crease with a wide open net but couldn’t convert. Late pressure from Brooks Orpik and Christian Djoos caused Gourde trouble in the slot and he shoveled Victor Hedman’s beautiful pass past the right post.
- Midway through the contest Andre Burakovsky picked up the puck in the offensive zone and extended Washington lead to two. Lars Eller’s shot from center ice deflected off of Dan Girardi and allowed Burakovsky to get in alone against Vasilevskiy and beat his right side cleanly.
- Orpik was then run by Cedric Paquette squarely between the 4s on his jersey - with no penalty being called. Orpik needed assistance getting off the ice but would return after a short absence.
- And before the second intermission arrived Burakovsky buried his second goal of the night through Vasilevskiy’s pads. A smart defensive zone clear from John Carlson put Burakovsky on a breakaway from center ice and he made no mistake with a hard and low shot.
- Matt Niskanen took an early third period penalty which allowed Tampa Bay’s lethal power play unit onto the ice. Fortunately for Niskanen his teammates successfully negated the Lightning advantage and kept the home team scoreless.
- With four minutes to play in the contest Nicklas Backstrom would slam a loose puck into an empty Lightning net to provide the margin of victory for Washington.
- The Capitals would close out Tampa Bay the rest of the way, riding Braden Holtby’s 28 save shutout performance to victory.
Finally making a return to the Stanley Cup Finals has been well worth the wait. Anyone disagree?