Alex Ovechkin earned an assist in Game 6 to help Washington advance to the Eastern Conference Final.
The Capitals are learning some about Murray, having now scored all five of their goals against him in this series glove side. Four times previously during the Ovechkin Era the Capitals won three games in the second round only to come up short in Game 7.
April 19, 2018; Columbus, OH, USA; Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby (70) makes a save under his blocker against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the third period in game four of the first round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nationwide Arena. Kuznetsov tucked one past Penguins goaltender Matt Murray to give Washington its first Eastern Conference Final berth in 20 seasons and just the third in the franchise's history. Play continued. And a few minutes later Kuznetsov's goal joined Dale Hunter's overtime Game 7 victor vs. Philadelphia in the first round in 1988 and Joe Juneau's poke by Dominik Hasek vs. Buffalo in the Eastern Conference finals in 1998 in franchise lore. "I just focus on the game". Pittsburgh also allowed too many odd-man rushes in game three during the third period and it cost them with just over a minute left. Both teams are offensively talented, but Tampa has the advantage at defense.
When the Washington Capitals finished off the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 6 in the first round of the playoffs last spring, their dressing room was an nearly surreal place.
The Penguins, by contrast, have been impossible to finish off since head coach Mike Sullivan took over in December 2015. He made 18 of his 28 saves in the first period and had to in order to keep Washington from turning this into a blowout.
"We thought we had the chance to do something special", Schultz said. That's all you can ask.
For most of the series, the Capitals were the better team.
Because that's who Ovechkin is, and who he has been for the past decade, independent from the number of playoff rounds he wins with the Capitals, or how deep he's played in global tournaments with Russian Federation. But the goal isn't to get past the second round.
Washington finally shed their Penguin-shaped post-season demons, but the Capitals shouldn't go basking in the glory of getting by Pittsburgh in the second round. Letang ripped a low slap shot past Holtby from near the blue line. "You look forward, get a little more rest, work hard and be back next year, be better next year".
Each team also found a bunch of scoring opportunities in the third period, but no one could convert until Kuznetsov's overtime goal. He's not a passenger in this run to the conference finals, but a driver.
"It's not a great feeling obviously", Crosby said. "As a goalie you just want to be able to do your job and when something like that happens and you can't do it, you just want to see the rule upheld".