Published: Sat, May 26, 2018
Sport | By Gary Shelton

National Hockey League playoffs 2018: Three takeaways from Capitals' win

National Hockey League playoffs 2018: Three takeaways from Capitals' win

"A lot of fans around the country when their team is in the playoffs, they like to have get-togethers and parties, viewing parties for the away games and stuff like that".

"I play my best when I'm kind of zoned out, not really focusing on that". T.J. Oshie broke the ice with a power play goal, and Devante Smith-Pelly ripped the roof off Capital One Arena with a goal set up by a great hustle play from Chandler Stephenson.

The Capitals then scored twice to make it 3-0 on goals from an unlikely source.

"The first goal was very important", Ovechkin said. This game was unbelievable. Holts was unstoppable today. "I don't think you guys (reporters) felt like you were going to be here". And how fitting that it's Ovechkin who scored on the Capitals' first shot of this game, just 1:02 in, which stands as the victor to carry this franchise to its first Stanley Cup Final in 20 years, and only its second in team history. Washington's Tom Wilson and Tampa Bay's Braydon Coburn went at it a couple of times, including picking up fighting majors as they came out of the penalty box late in the first period.

"We don't have to say to much to each other", Backstrom said. "We deserved to win this".

After surviving a strong push by the Lightning to start the second period, Burakovsky scored back-to-back goals. Hockey is random and "funny", as Niskanen put it, and the window for the Capitals' aging core with Ovechkin (32) and Nicklas Backstrom (30) is still steadily closing. "We realize there's a bunch of good teams out there, a group of teams that could win the Stanley Cup". "He played fantastic, back to back shutouts".

Tampa Bay was shut out for the first time this postseason after scoring at least two goals in its first 15 games, including three or more in 11. They responded with their best two performances of the playoffs, winning 3-0 in Game 6 and following it up with another complete effort in Game 7. They didn't know each other - and it didn't matter. Not with Washington starting its backup goalie for Games 1 and 2 and the Capitals relying on as many as five rookies.

However, he has yet to lead his team to the Stanley Cup Final.

Oshie is bidding to become the first Warroad High player to win a Stanley Cup. Home teams are 21-12 in those games.

The Capitals, who have never won a Stanley Cup, got off to a great start in Game 7, when Ovechkin buried a Evgeny Kuznetsov feed just 1 minute, 2 seconds into the game.

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To be sure, Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final is well-trodden territory.

For the third time in the past four years, the Lightning will play Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, and the script has pretty much played out the same way.

"It's going to take a few days to digest this".

"It's just a very disappointing", said Lightning captain Steven Stamkos. When you get to this point, you probably could have flipped a coin and not guessed who would win among the four teams.

On paper there's some clear weaknesses with this roster but on the ice there just isn't right now.

"[Wednesday] is probably biggest game in my life, this team, this organization", said Ovechkin, who has three goals and six points in his 10 previous Game 7s. Vasilevskiy made 19 saves.

The Capitals got over the hump in their 10th playoff appearance after early exits marred by sudden-death overtime winners, a hot goaltender named Jaroslav Halak, the New York Rangers and - of course - the Penguins. Fedorov's goal secured the first playoff series win in the Alex Ovechkin Era, as Washington once again rallied from a 3-1 series deficit.

Of that shutout, Holtby's first of the season, Smith-Pelly said: "It's a flawless time".

Against the Rangers, the Lightning won Game 7. In 2016, the Lightning were up 3-2 in the series to Pittsburgh but failed to close out the series in six games.

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