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Lundqvist on Ovechkin: 'He definitely surprised me'

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Lundqvist on Ovechkin: 'He definitely surprised me'

NEW YORK -- If Alex Ovechkin plays the remainder of the Capitals’ second-round playoff series against the Rangers the way he played in Game 2, it might take an act of God to prevent him from making his first trip to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Yes, the Capitals lost Saturday’s game in Madison Square Garden by a 3-2 score. But there was little debate over who left more of himself on the ice in the defeat.

“He’s a big-time player and sometimes it’s not what you get, it’s what you leave,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said of his 29-year-old captain. “He’s leaving an impression on them physically and also with his skill level. He’s a force, there’s no question.”

Ovechkin delivered a game-high nine hits in Game 2, made an artful backhand pass to Evgeny Kuznetsov for a prime scoring chance, and threw 11 shots in the direction of Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.

But it was his beastly goal with 9:31 gone in the final period that had everyone in the building, including all 39 players, shaking their heads in amazement.

Ovechkin took a pass from Joel Ward on his backhand and accelerated through the Rangers’ top defensive pairing of Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi. Within the blink of an eye, as he was falling to his knees, Ovechkin snapped a bullet just inside the far post and under the crossbar for one of the most impressive goals of his career. 

“He’s one of the best players in the game, there’s no question,” Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist said. “There’s not a lot of players that can do what he does out there and it’s a challenge for us every game to try to stop him. But to be able to shoot it that hard on your knees, he definitely surprised me a little bit there. 

“But you have to be ready for anything, especially that line. They’re playing really well, so you just have to be on your toes out there.”

“Nothing really surprises me anymore with him,” Capitals right wing Jason Chimera said. “Even when he’s on his [bottom] he’s got a harder shot than me.”

Rangers center Derrick Brassard scored the game-winning goal in Game 2 but if the Rangers hope to return to the conference finals for the second straight year, Brassard said they’ll need to do a better job against the Caps’ captain.

“We learned we can’t fall asleep on Number 8,” Brassard said.

After the loss, Trotz, who boldly compared Ovechkin to Mark Messier following Game 1, was asked if he Russian superstar is currently the best player in the world.

“On my team he is,” Trotz answered. “There are different degrees and different positions, but if you look at the left wingers in the league, I don’t know if you can come up with too many better than him -- if any.”

MORE CAPITALS: Ovechkin beats Lundqvist with highlight reel goal

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: On to Vegas!

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USA TODAY Sports

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: On to Vegas!

The Capitals are the Eastern Conference Champions!

After dispatching Tampa Bay in Game 7, the Caps claimed the conference crown for just the second time in franchise history. But they're not done yet. Now it's on to Vegas to face the Golden Knights for the Stanley Cup.

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir break down the Caps' win over the Lightning and look ahead to the matchup with the Knights.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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Believe it or not, this isn't the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup

Believe it or not, this isn't the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup

In what is perhaps the most unexpected Stanley Cup Final pairing in recent memory, the Washington Capitals and the Las Vegas Golden Knights are going to make history this year.

Either it is going to be the first expansion team to win a title in their first season, or it will be a team looking to end a 27-year title drought for one of the biggest cities in the United States.

But what it will not be is the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup.

Going even farther back than the Capitals last Stanley Cup appearance (1998), the Georgetown Hoyas and UNLV Rebels met in the 1991 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Sin City took the first, and up until now, the only postseason bout between these two cities. The Larry Johnson-led University of Las Vegas squad powered right past the Hoyas in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament.

[D.C. sports and Second Rounds, I know right?]

Coming fresh off the NCAA title in 1990, UNLV waltzed right to the Final Four before meeting their demise against Duke. It also ended up being the last game for Dikembe Mutombo in a Georgetown uniform.

While in all likely-hood this will not be the final game/ series for Alex Ovechkin rocking the red, it may be his last and only chance for him to play this far into a postseason.

In the past two seasons, Vegas has gone from zero professional teams to having a Stanley Cup contender, a WNBA franchise, and lined up to take over the Oakland Raiders in 2020. 

Now time for the Golden Knights' Cinderella story to come up a little bit short. 

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