The Washington Capitals are your Eastern Conference Champions
An entertaining Game 7 wrapped up tonight with a very happy and relieved Washington Capitals team. After finally overcoming the Pittsburgh Penguins, and reaching the third round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in the Alex Ovechkin era, the Tampa Bay Lightning had them on the ropes. However, the Caps avoided elimination in Game 6 and then conquered Game 7 too.
Tampa Bay dropped Game 7 by a score of 4-0. This ended their magnificent bounce-back season after failing to qualify for the postseason just a year ago. Braden Holtby snagged his second consecutive shutout in the Eastern Conference Final, an amazing feat. For the Capitals, this will be their first trip to the Stanley Cup Final in exactly 20 years. Either the Capitals or the Vegas Golden Knights will now take home the Cup; in both cases, it would be the franchise’s first championship.
Game 7: Caps 4 – Bolts 0
Period 1: Caps Start Hot
Washington captain Alex Ovechkin took no time putting his stamp on Game 7, blasting a one-timer by Andrei Vasilevskiy just one minute in. The other big moment came as Brayden Coburn exited the penalty box to a waiting Tom Wilson. They squared off for a surprisingly long fight, one that left Wilson’s fist bloodied. The Bolts had a few chances, but otherwise, this was the Caps period.
Period 2: Washington Capitalizes
While Tampa continued to push, they failed to capitalize on multiple close calls. On the other hand, the Caps extended their lead when Andre Burakovsky buried seven minutes in. Holtby stood tall, especially on a breakaway save with about seven minutes to go. Then the Caps buried again, Burakovsky again, on their own breakaway between Vasilevskiy’s legs. The Lightning simply were running out of time…
Period 3: Caps Wrap it Up
Another strong period left the Lightning without any significant shot tonight at the Finals. Washington kept chances to a minimum, and the Lightning struggled to generate much. Holtby hung on for the shutout, pitching back-to-back goose eggs against one of the most potent offenses in the league.
Looking Ahead: Knights vs. Capitals
Because the Caps won Game 7, we’re now guaranteed to see a first time Cup champion this year; a major refreshment after watching the same four teams win for the past decade. However, there is a lot more to be excited about than that alone.
The Knights have a lot to prove, although they’ve obviously already proved a ton more than anyone anticipated. This group of “castaways” or “misfits” has already gotten the last laugh over 29 of the league’s 30 other teams, but the crown jewel would absolutely be a Stanley Cup Champion. Nothing says “you shouldn’t have let me go” like a Stanley Cup Ring.
Marc-Andre Fleury will look to further prove his worth as a bon-a-fide starter in the NHL just a year after Matt Murray took over the reigns mid-playoffs to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to their second Cup in two seasons.
Both Game 6 and Game 7 showed exactly why the Caps deserve to be here. They are capable of playing fantastic defensively, and can spread their scoring out on any of their four forward lines. They are going to need to do this even better against the extremely fast and talented Knights roster.
Fleury won’t be any easier to beat than Vasilevskiy was. That being said, Washington has been able to get by three of the best goalies in the league this year (Sergei Bobrovsky, Murray, and Vasilevskiy).
The Caps are 12-7, the Knights are 12-3. Expect an amazing finals, there’s a lot here to be excited about. One way or another, we’ve got some great feel-good stories on both sides. May the best team win.
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