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Holtby gets a taste of 'Gump' hockey

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Holtby gets a taste of 'Gump' hockey

Early In the second period of the Capitals’ 4-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes Saturday night, goaltender Braden Holtby was on his knees in his crease, his mask lying on the ice and his bare face staring down the barrel of a Justin Faulk slap shot.

“It was a bizarre play,” Holtby recalled after the game. “Those plays you trust the ref to hopefully blow the whistle and luckily nothing bad happened.”

Caps defenseman Karl Alzner had pushed Jeff Skinner into the back of Holtby, knocking his helmet to the ice. But because there was no immediate whistle to stop play, Faulk wound up and fired from the blue line, forcing Holtby to throw both of his gloved hands over his face.

“If you watch the replay I don’t think Faulks is looking over there,” Capitals right wing T.J. Oshie said. “I know him pretty well and he’s not that kind of guy that would take a shot at a guy with a helmet off.

“Luckily, Holts is protecting himself down there because Faulk has a pretty heavy shot.”

Immediately after the puck sailed over Holtby’s head and into the net, Holtby glared at Faulk.

“It’s one of those plays where you kind of gotta get mad at (Faulk) right away,” Oshie said. “If I had my helmet off, I’d probably give him a longer stare. We’re lucky Holts didn’t get hit there.”

Asked if he felt a little bit like Gump Worsley, a former NHL goalie who played his entire career without a mask, telling reporters, “My face is my mask,” Holtby was quick with a reply.

“They didn’t have those (curved) sticks back in the day,” quipped Holtby.

RELATED: Backstrom looks like he's in mid-season form

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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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D.C. fans take to the streets to celebrate after Caps beat Bolts

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D.C. fans take to the streets to celebrate after Caps beat Bolts

With their 4-0 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning to advance to the Stanley Cup Final, the Capitals did something they haven't done in 20 years. It's only their second time going to the Final in team history.

Not only is it the first time in 20 years the Caps have made it to the Stanley Cup Final, it's the first time in 20 years that ANY D.C. team has reached a championship round. After being disappointed by their teams in the playoffs year in and year out, D.C. fans were ready to celebrate their city changing the narrative. F Street outside Capital One Arena was packed with fans cheering, celebrating and chanting "We want Vegas."

If you thought the National Portrait Gallery steps were packed after the Caps beat the Penguins, that was nothing compared to Wednesday night.

Caps fans were even representing outside Amalie Arena in Tampa, cheering on the Caps as they left to return home. 

National sports pundits have criticized the D.C. fanbase in the past for not being passionate enough. Michael Wilbon recently said the nation's capital is a 'minor league sports town.' Does this reaction say minor league sports town to you? I don't think so. D.C. fans are the real deal, and they're ready for the Caps to be in the Stanley Cup Final.

MORE CAPITALS: 

Caps headed to Cup: First Cup Final in 20 years
Wilson throws hands: Is not to be messed with
Ovi and the Cup: 13 years in the making