NHL Metro Division Notebook: Washington Finally Does It

Las Vegas has fallen in love with Golden Knights

Walker's assist was the first ever in the playoffs by an Australian when he set up Chiasson's score. Washington and Pittsburgh have a bitter rivalry dating back to the early 1990s. But the most unsafe thing for this team and this fan base to do would be to be satisfied that just because they've finally vanquished the Penguins, the job is done and they can all go home happy this summer. And no, the Capitals' victory over the Penguins Monday night in Game 6 which sends Ovechkin to his first-career conference final does not change this a lick, but it should help to reinforce it.

Had you not known any better, you'd have thought the Capitals had just won the Stanley Cup, when in reality they had made it through just 25 percent of the NHL's post-season grind.

The victor of that series will take on the expansion Vegas Golden Knights, who beat the San Jose Sharks on Sunday to reach the Western Conference finals in their first season.

"It's pretty emotional", Kuznetsov said after his seventh goal of the playoffs 5:27 into overtime pushed the Capitals into the NHL's final four for just the third time in franchise history.

It was the playoff matchup everyone was waiting for. The Penguins' streak of road playoff victories ended at six. He takes a beating every time, but he's always been good in the playoffs.

"The Capitals can't win with Ovechkin"; "Ovechkin can't perform in the clutch"; "Where does Washington go from here?" . They will have to face an even more lethal foe in the Tampa Bay Lightning, who have steamrolled everyone they've faced so far in the postseason.

The Capitals are not the oldest team in the National Hockey League, but they have a good number of core players - Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie, Matt Niskanen, Brooks Orpik - who are on the other side of 30. For years, Ovechkin was given the label as not a "big game" player. In Game 3, with less than a minute to go Ovechkin scored the game-winning goal.

The game-winning sequence began with Kuznetsov poking the puck away from Penguins star Sidney Crosby as Crosby tried to enter the Washington zone.

Overall, Pittsburgh went 5/19 on the power play in the series which is a step below their 26.2% success rate from the regular season.

These are the things people won't tell you about Ovechkin, because the other thing that's been a constant since he arrived in Washington is the Capitals have failed to get past the second round. Prior the playoffs beginning, Holtby was struggling and relegated to the backup. Holtby also gave his teammates in front of him a new found confidence. That's a testament to how well the Capitals played. In doing so the Capitals were able to play the flawless game on the road to close out the series with the Penguins.

Washington said all season that this was a different story than in years past.



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