As Kuznetsov skated in on Matt Murray and slipped the puck through his legs, the final ax in the trunk to topple the towering tree, Ovechkin raised his arms, looked up at the heavens, and watched the demons fly out of his chest and into the rafters of PPG Paints Arena.
Alex Ovechkin earned an assist in Game 6 to help Washington advance to the Eastern Conference Final. Braden Holtby stood tall during the Penguins series and posted a.921 save-percentage (SV %) and a 2.1 goals-against-average (GAA). At one point, the high-danger chances in game five were 20-3 in favor of the Penguins. Oshie recorded 13 points.
Crosby won a faceoff in the offensive zone and fed it to Letang, whose shot from the point Washington's Chandler Stephenson and slipped by Holtby 11:52 into the second to tie it and set the stage for more drama in a series and a rivalry that continues to one-up itself spring after spring. For years, Ovechkin was given the label as not a "big game" player.
NOTES: The Capitals have now killed 22 consecutive penalties dating to Game 2 of their first-round series against Columbus. Even on the road against a two-time defending champion with a special knack for torment. 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. Time to go inside the NHL Metro Division Notebook to find out how. So how does a player of this type of caliber never reach an Eastern Conference Finals? Center Sidney Crosby, 30, is signed through 2024-25. As mentioned, Crosby has ousted Ovechkin three times since 2009 and has gone on to win the Stanley Cup in all three of those postseasons. Holtby had the worst postseason stretch of his career. Then the Pittsburgh second-round matchup occurred.
The 2018 Washington Capitals are writing their own history. They will have to face an even more lethal foe in the Tampa Bay Lightning, who have steamrolled everyone they've faced so far in the postseason.
Washington said all season that this was a different story than in years past.
Both teams played great defense throughout the game, making shots hard to come by. The past three times the two rivals have met in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Pens have come out on top and went on to win the Stanley Cup. The Capitals won 4-3. They also didn't get the balanced scoring that was so critical to their success in 2016 and 2017. He's constantly compared to Crosby, selected No. 1 in the NHL Draft a year after Ovechkin himself had the distinction, and has played in an era of a few dominant franchises, one of which (the Penguins) has often dashed Washington's Stanley Cup dreams.