Capitals end Penguins Stanley Cup reign

by Steven Clarke May 9, 2018, 1:16
Capitals end Penguins Stanley Cup reign

And he was proved correct.

The Washington Capitals exorcised a lot of demons Monday night and secured a berth in the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 1998, where a talented Tampa Bay Lightning team, eerily similar to the Stanley Cup-winning Pittsburgh Penguins squads of 2016 and 2017, awaits them.

That type of confidence was needed for Washington to overcome their struggles against Pittsburgh in the past. The Washington Capitals finally got the best of the Pittsburgh Penguins and advanced past the second round of the playoffs.

We'll find out after the game's conclusion what the Penguins players thought of the wild, but heartfelt, show of support from their crosstown brethren, but it was clear that, if nothing else, the Steelers were getting the crowd fired up.

The Capitals ended up eliminating the Penguins with Nicklas Backstrom missing Game 6 with an injury and Tom Wilson wrapping up his controversial suspension. Washington had to stop Pittsburgh's potent power play if they wanted to have a great shot at winning this series and that's exactly what they did.

Pushing that number to 18-5 would send the series back to Washington and force the Capitals try to explain - again - how this time will be different. After Tampa Bay missed the postseason a year ago, the team won its first two series in five games while scoring 3.50 goals per game and allowing just 2.50.

That last step, however, has always been tricky.

The fourth-line left wing hadn't scored a point in the Stanley Cup playoffs, as secondary scoring served as startling statistic that shadowed the Penguins forwards. "We had some looks but not enough, obviously". Four times previously during the Ovechkin Era the Capitals won three games in the second round only to come up short in Game 7.

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan lauded Murray despite the loss.

The stakes led to a slow start for both before the Capitals broke through 2:13 into the second when Walker held off Pittsburghs Derick Brassard behind the Pittsburgh net and fed Chiasson in the right circle. Penguins goaltender Matt Murray stopped 28 of 30 shots on goal.

The deficit, however, hardly appeared to stoke the Penguins.

"The goal isn't to get past the second round", center Jay Beagle said. He reshuffled the lines - putting Patric Hornqvist alongside Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin alongside Phil Kessel - and the energy shifted immediately. Crosby's assist pushed his career playoff total to 185, tied with Hall of Famer Steve Yzerman for 10th most all-time. "Make the playoffs. First round".

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