The Washington Capitals have vanquished the threepeat hopes of the Pittsburgh Penguins and advanced to the Eastern Conference Final thanks to a Monday night win.
The Capitals took the Game Six victory 2-1, with Evgeny Kuznetsov sealing the deal at 5:27 in overtime.
Washington will now face the Tampa Bay Lightning in the next round.
The win is vindication for the Capitals.
Prior to Monday, the Capitals hadn’t advanced past the second round of the playoffs since 1998. They pushed to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1974, but were swept by the Steve Yzerman-led Detroit Red Wings. Washington made things interesting with a franchise built on the likes of Joe Juneau and Adam Oates, however.
And this is a franchise built on the likes of Alex Ovechkin, who played every bit like the superstar he is. He had 23:01 of ice time on Monday and assisted Kuznetsov’s winner. He also registered five shots on goal and seven hits. The 32-year-old has eight goals in the playoffs.
“We believe in each other,” Ovechkin said. “It doesn’t matter what happened [in the past]. We have to stick together. We knew it was there. We just had to battle, and we just had to fight through it. Again, great feeling right now and we’re going forward.”
Kuznetsov’s goal was his seventh in the post-season.
Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang had the lone goal for his club in Game Six. Sidney Crosby and Brian Dumoulin had the assists.
Alex Chiasson had the other Capitals goal, with assists by Nathan Walker and Jay Beagle.
Washington netminder Braden Holtby stopped 21 of 22 Pittsburgh shots and has looked sharp throughout the playoffs.
“I think us as a group, we wanted to give our city more from a playoff standpoint,” said Holtby after the game. “But more doesn’t mean a conference final. More means a Stanley Cup.”
Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray stopped 28 of 30 Capitals shots.