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Barry Trotz takes a moment to recognize ‘greatness’ of Alex Ovechkin's accomplishments

Barry Trotz takes a moment to recognize ‘greatness’ of Alex Ovechkin's accomplishments

Saturday’s game was an historical night. Not only did the Capitals set a franchise record for him wins with their 32nd victory at Verizon Center, Alex Ovechkin also hit the 30-goal mark. Ovechkin is now one of just three players in NHL history to reach 30 goals in his first 12 seasons.

Following the game, head coach Barry Trotz wanted to make sure everyone, including Ovechkin knew magnitude of that achievement.

“Some history was made tonight,” Trotz said. “Start your career, you get 30 goals a year for first 12 years, you're one of three, you're in that elite company with Mike Gartner, a guy named, what's his name, Wayne Gretzky. You guys might have heard of him. And then Alex Ovechkin.”

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Anytime you are in the same company with Wayne Gretzky, you’re doing something right. Ovechkin has a ways to go to catch both players as Gartner went on to tally 30+ in 15 seasons while Gretzky did it for 13.

But Ovechkin does not have to continue putting up 30 goal seasons for the rest of his career to prove his greatness. He has already established himself as the greatest goal scorer of his generation and Trotz wanted to make sure he knew just what he had accomplished.

Trotz spoke with Ovechkin after the game about his latest career milestone.

How did Ovechkin take it? Just as you would expect someone who has scored 30 or more in 12 straight seasons. He acted like he’s been there before.

“I think he's getting pretty casual with some of the greatness of the stuff he's done,” Trotz said. “He gives me a little wink or a little thumbs up or whatever. There's no hugging are anything like that or big speech.”

There will be a time in which Ovechkin will be able to reflect on all of his accomplishments and marvel at the incredible career he’s put together.

That time, however, with the team preparing for a run at the Stanley Cup, is not now. Ovechkin reminded the media of that after Saturday’s game saying, “More history to come.”

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Alex Ovechkin scored the goal that sent the Capitals to the Stanley Cup Final

Alex Ovechkin scored the goal that sent the Capitals to the Stanley Cup Final

On June 4, 1998, Joe Juneau scored the biggest goal in the history of the Washington Capitals.

In Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final, Joe Juneau attacked the crease and shot in a rebound past a helpless Dominik Hasek in overtime to defeat the Buffalo Sabres and win the Eastern Conference.

That goal sent the Capitals to its first and, before 2018, only Stanley Cup Final.

Alex Ovechkin’s name was already etched in the history books for the Capitals several times over, but on Wednesday he added it again with the biggest goal of his career. His goal in Game 7 stood as the game-winner meaning it was the goal that sent the Capitals to their second Cup Final.

You can watch it here:

It did not come in overtime and was not quite as dramatic as Juneau’s. In fact, no one knew the significance of the goal at the time. It came just 62 seconds into the contest. It was a significant goal, but no one realized right away that it would be an historic one.

How fitting is it that Ovechkin scored the game-winner? Ovechkin who this team was built around, who reignited the franchise and built Washington into a hockey city. After all the criticism over the years, all the talk about how he can’t win, all talk about how the team should take away the C and all the talk about how the Caps should trade him and start over, this goal was not just a moment of history, but one of vindication.

When we look back on Ovechkin’s career, at all the individual awards and accomplishments, this one single goal will stand above the rest. This was the biggest game of his career and he scored the biggest goal of his career just 62 seconds in.

There’s one way he can top that: lead the Caps past Vegas for their first Stanley Cup.

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4 reasons the Caps beat the Lightning to win the Eastern Conference

4 reasons the Caps beat the Lightning to win the Eastern Conference

The Capitals dominated the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-0 in Game 7 on Wednesday to claim the conference crown and a spot in the Stanley Cup Final. Washington took an early lead and never looked back.

Here is how they bucked their Game 7 history to win.

62 seconds

The last time these two teams met in Tampa, the Lightning struck just 19 seconds into the game and it set the tone for the entire contest. This time, it was the Caps who struck early.

A big hit by Tom Wilson in the neutral zone created a turnover that started the rush for the Caps. Evgeny Kuznetsov fed Ovechkin for the one-timer and he fired it past Vasilevskiy just 62 seconds into the game.

Andre Burakovsky’s big night

Injury limited Burakovsky to just 56 games this season. He suffered another injury in Game 2 of the first round and did not return until Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final. He was a healthy scratch in Game 5 and was talking about talking to a sports psychologist over the summer. He had not recorded a point this postseason heading into Wednesday game.

And somehow, he rattled off two goals to lead the Capitals.

The start of the second period was all Tampa Bay. The Lightning were dictating the play and buzzing around Braden Holtby. They outshot the Caps 8-1 to start the frame, but Burakovsky got the momentum right back as he stole the puck away from Dan Girardi and fired a beautiful shot past Andrei Vasilevskiy. John Carlson sprung him on a breakaway later in the second period which he put through the five-hole of Vasilevskiy for his second goal of the game.

Braden Holtby is suddenly unbeatable

The last goal Holtby allowed was 33 seconds into the second period…of Game 5. After not recording a single shutout at all this season, he blanked the Lightning in both Game 6 and Game 7 for back-to-back shutouts.

The Lightning had their opportunities. They pushed and pushed hard all game long, especially in the second period as they recorded eight of the first nine shots on goal of the period.

It didn’t matter.

Holtby was up to the task as he dominated the Lightning yet again, even turning aside a breakaway from Alex Killorn to keep the clean sheet. He made 60 straight saves and did not allow a goal for 159:27. This is just the fifth time in NHL history a goalie recorded a shutout in both Game 6 and Game 7 of a playoff series.

Team defense

The Lightning had their chances, but they were frustrated all night long by the all-in defense the Caps played. As good as Holtby was, he let up a lot of juicy rebounds early on. But Tampa Bay could not get a stick to any of them because the Caps defense beat them to the puck all game long.

The Caps recorded 15 blocked shots in the game. Devante Smith-Pelly took a shot block off the back of the neck, T.J. Oshie took one off the boot.

This team was all-in all night long and it frustrated what was the league’s top offense.