The Capitals did it. They finally did it. For the first time since 1998, the Caps are headed to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Washington stifled the Penguins' offense all night long to force overtime and Evgeny Kuznetsov knocked the monkey off his team's back with his overtime winner. The Caps defeated Pittsburgh 2-1 in Game 6 to end the reign of the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions.
Here's how they did it.
Four Reasons Why the Capitals beat the Penguins in Game 6
1. A fourth-line goal
The Caps were without Nicklas Backstrom, Andre Burakovsky and Tom Wilson in Game 6.
That meant the Caps went into Pittsburgh trying to eliminate the Penguins with a lineup that featured Travis Boyd and Nathan Walker both making their NHL playoff debuts. Considering how deep the Penguins are, you would think the depth advantage would go to Pittsburgh. Yet, Washington opened the scoring with a fourth line goal as Walker fed Alex Chiasson for the one-timer to beat Matt Murray. That goal put the Caps up 1-0 in the second.
2. Braden Holtby’s big, second-period save
With the score tied at 1 in the second period, the Penguins made a late push to try to take the 2-1 lead. Evgeni Malkin fed a backhand pass to a charging Justin Schultz in the slot, but Holtby made the phenomenal save as he shrugged away the puck with the shoulder.
The save came with just eight seconds left. That would have been a game-changing goal to say the least.
3. No easy passes
Washington did a masterful job getting into the passing lanes of the Penguins all game long. They generated multiple turnovers and really frustrated the offense of Pittsburgh as they got a stick in between seemingly every pass the Penguins tried to make. Pittsburgh is a fast team that likes to move the puck quickly with fast breakouts.
The Caps could not afford to trade chances with them. Instead, they mucked up the ice and did not allow the Pittsburgh’s offense to flow.
4. Murray’s five-hole
Evgeny Kuznetsov tied Game 5 with a goal through the five-hole of Matt Murray.
In overtime, Kuznetsov had another breakaway, deked to open up the five-hole and again took advantage.
Remember this goal because it will go down as one of the biggest in franchise history.
MORE CAPITALS PLAYOFF NEWS:
- Streak Over: D.C. finally breaks through
- Celly Time: Fans react to Kuzy's goal
- 3 Stars: Holtby and Kuzy shine again
- Power Ranks: Updated Standings
- Series Anatomy: Dissecting Caps-Pens
CAPITALS EXTRA PODCAST: GAME 6