Monday’s Game 6 overtime victory in Pittsburgh will be a moment Capitals fans will savor for a long time.
For the first time in the Alex Ovechkin era, Washington defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins in a playoff series.
But while the Penguins have always felt like the ultimate target for this Capitals team, a second-round win over Pittsburgh was never the ultimate goal.
With eight wins this postseason, Washington actually has only hit the halfway point in the quest for a Stanley Cup.
“I think you just look at it very simplistically and it's eight wins out of the 16 that you need,” Brooks Orpik said after practice Wednesday. “Getting halfway, I don't think anyone's satisfied with that.”
But how do you move on?
The Capitals just defeated the team that has tormented the franchise throughout its history and that has personally ended this team’s season for two straight seasons and three times in the Ovechkin era. In each of those three times, Washington had to watch as Pittsburgh would go on to win the Stanley Cup.
The emotion of the win was evident among the players in their celebration on the ice, in the fans as they celebrated throughout the city and in the face of Ovechkin.
If you didn't react like this, are you really a Caps fan? https://t.co/2PbCzWhyry— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) May 8, 2018
How do you move on from such an emotional win and prepare to play team in which you have little history against?
The Caps aren’t worried.
“It was not really a celebration,” Alex Ovechkin said. “We just was happy. We’re going to celebrate when it’s over. I hope we’re going to win the Cup and then we’re going to be celebrating. But right now it’s just satisfaction we beat the Stanley Cup champions finally and we move forward.”
“If we had to play right away I think it might’ve been a little tough, but I think we had a big enough break that we can come back down to earth and really focus in on Game 1,” Braden Holtby said. “Really get it out of our system about winning in Pittsburgh and move on to what’s going to be an important series.”
Careful. You don’t want to get it all out of your system.
There’s something to be said about the momentum that comes from finally getting over that hump.
On paper, Tampa Bay Lightning has the better team. The Capitals, however, are going to be entering the series very loose and very confident. That can perhaps take them farther than many expect.
“We got a lot of demons out of the way,” Barry Trotz said.
“Last series was a big step for our group,” Matt Niskanen said. “We should be proud of that. It's a big achievement. But I think we've got to be greedy. We've got to want more because this is a heck of a run."
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