Capitals

Capitals

It wasn't a beautiful goal. It wasn't unforgettable. It wasn't the kind you can't take your eyes off of and watch 100 times.

But Lars Eller was in the right place at the right time and found a way to make the puck bounce perfectly across the Columbus Blue Jackets' goal line in Game 3 of the first round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. With a little bit of luck, Eller might have saved the Washington Capitals' playoff run.

There's a reason this goal is No. 3 on our list of Top-20 Goals of the 2017-18 Stanley Cup Run.

Three games into the postseason, the Caps were in their third consecutive overtime battle against divisional foe Blue Jackets. Washington had dropped the first two OT matchups, and as the teams entered double-overtime in Game 3, had Columbus been the team to get a lucky bounce, the Caps would have been down 3-0 in the series and staring at another early playoff exit. 

Instead, the Caps' center found what was literally a lucky bounce as the puck pinballed off his stick, ricocheted off Blue Jackets'defenseman Zach Werenski's leg and strolled across the line past goalie Sergei Bobrovsky. 

Rushing up the ice on a 3-on-2 fast break in favor of the Caps, Devante Smith-Pelly -- who became a playoff hero in his own right down the road -- passed the puck left to Brett Connolly, who sniped a shot at the goal. To his credit, Bobrovsky made a spectacular save with Connolly, Smith-Pelly and Eller charging at him. 

 

But instead of Bobrovsky grabbing the puck, he couldn't help but let it bounce off his glove. If you watch the replay enough times, you'll notice Werenski actually attempts to swat it away, and that's when the puck hits Eller and bounces back and forth between the two before crossing the goal line.

Nine minutes into the second overtime, the Caps got their first win of the series and avoided going down 3-zip and being forced to win four consecutive games to stay alive -- although they did that anyway and took the series in six games.

Eller walked away from Game 3 a hero with a goal that's surely undercelebrated among all of Washington's jaw-dropping and memorable moments from their playoff run. It was his first of seven postseason goals, and without it, the Caps might still be in search of their first Stanley Cup.

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