The 2017 Stanley Cup Playoff series victory came on Sunday night, with Washington putting away a 2-1 win in overtime.
The series was tight down to the wire, with five of six games going to overtime and each game separated by just one goal. In the end, the Capitals outscored the Maple Leafs 18-16.
The run was a nail-biter for Toronto and Game Six was a fast-paced, tense affair.
Washington netminder Braden Holtby had the edge in the series and made 37 saves in the Game Six win. He finished the first round 4-2, with a 2.36 goals against average and a .925 save percentage.
“I know earlier in the series [Holtby] took some criticism and there were a lot of doubters out there,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “The only people who doubted him were the people on the outside. But in our room, there was no doubt. He’s been too good for too long, he makes those key saves and that’s why he’s a Vezina candidate the last few years.”
His counterpart, Frederik Andersen, had 34 saves for Toronto. He finished with a .915 save percentage and a 2.68 goals against average.
Marcus Johansson had both goals for the Capitals, while Auston Matthews scored a third period goal for Toronto.
The game seemed to take a turn after Johansson’s first goal and the Maple Leafs were chasing the puck, which gave the Capitals the edge when it mattered most.
“I didn’t think we had the puck much after that,” Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. “You have a chance to walk out the door in overtime; it’s in your building, you’re [facing] elimination but we didn’t push them, they pushed us, they were better.”
T.J. Oshie led the Capitals in points with three goals and four assists, while Alex Ovechkin had three goals. Justin Williams continued his playoff supremacy with a six-point performance in the series.
Matthews led the Maple Leafs in points and has a lot to be proud of in his playoff debut. The 19-year-old proved his mettle and became just the second Toronto rookie to score in four straight playoff games, joining Wendel Clark for the honour.
Mitch Marner had four points in the series, including a goal and three helpers. William Nylander also had four points.
The Capitals will face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round and will look for a measure of redemption against the club that knocked them out of the playoffs last season.
“We’re ready. We’re excited. We can’t wait to get going,” said Johansson. “We’ve worked hard for it. We’ve worked all year and all summer to get back into this position, and now we’re here.”