The defending champs are out of the running. The Carolina Hurricanes took care of the Washington Capitals Wednesday night, taking Game Seven by a final score of 4-3 in double overtime.
It was Brock McGinn who locked up the series, scoring 11:05 into the second overtime frame and concluding yet another comeback in this year’s improbable, amazing playoffs.
“We got some huge goals by some big players, huge saves by Petr [Mrazek] when we needed them, a huge goal by Jordan [Staal] to start the third period,” Carolina captain Justin Williams said. “We didn’t give up. When it was 2-0, we told ourselves we wouldn’t let it snowball like we did in the other games. We regrouped and stayed with it.”
The Hurricanes have now advanced to the second round for just the first time since 2009, overcoming a series deficit of 2-0 to grab the win.
And the Capitals have joined the long list of top seeds and favourites overtaken in this year’s post-season, with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Calgary Flames, Toronto Maple Leafs, Nashville Predators, Winnipeg Jets, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Vegas Golden Knights all gone.
Wednesday’s contest was the third-longest Game Seven in NHL history and the longevity of the contest wore on the Capitals, whose top stars seemed out of fuel. Alex Ovechkin, despite having nine points in the series, couldn’t get it done.
On some token, that’s hockey. Underdogs rise, favourites fall, the best players sometimes don’t come through with the big heroics when they’re supposed to. For Washington, that meant exiting the first round for the first time in six years. That meant joining the history books in auspicious fashion, as one of four division leaders bounced from the post-season this time out.
And that meant missing the opportunity to put it all away in Game Six.
For Carolina, it meant – and means – a chance to surge. The “Bunch of Jerks” were never down and out in the series and they always fought back for their position. Buoyed by an attitude that said they weren’t supposed to be there, the Hurricanes got another stunning Game Seven from Justin Williams and took advantage.
Williams, for his part, is 8-1 in Game Sevens now. He has 15 points in Game Sevens now. And he’s moving on, predictably.
Williams and the Hurricanes will face the New York Islanders in the second round. Game One goes Friday.
(Photo credit: AP Photo/Gerry Broome)