Despite losing the first two games of the series at home, the Washington Capitals won the other four consecutively to win the series against the Columbus Blue Jackets in six games. Now, for the third time in a row, they’ll face their archrival Pittsburgh Penguins in Round 2.
The Capitals, ranked first in the Metropolitan Division, picked up the Blue Jackets who got the Wild Card 1 berth. Even with the home ice in their favor, Washington lost the first two games in OT at the Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C.Alex Ovechkin, like another captain with a bold prediction, Mark Messier, said the series would return to Washington tied for a Game 5. Said and done, Ovechkin also scored a goal in Game 4 to make sure. The Capitals won games 3 and 4, and the third went to the OT, making the first three games of the series go beyond regular time. Coach Barry Trotz pulled Phillip Grubauer after two games to put Braden Holtby in, which gave Caps more solidity.
In addition to fulfilling the prediction, Ovechkin and Co. dominated Game 5, winning by 4-1 and putting the Capitals ahead in the series in 3-2. Although it was at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, the Capitals dominated Game 6, which was won by 6-3 with Ovechkin scoring twice.
Players who stood out:
The team managed to win four consecutive games, which hasn’t happened since 1990, when they were losing by 1-0 to NY Rangers in Round 2, winning the other four to win the series in 5 games (4-1). The team managed pretty well in the special units and knew how to make the other lines toproductive. Some players to highlight are:
Alex Ovechkin: Ovi has done what is expected of him: goals and a lot of attitude. He had the attitude and leadership to make the bold prediction that the Caps would be able to face adversity after two setbacks at home. He demonstrated that he trusts the team as a collective and he’ve done his part, that is with five goals and three assists in the series.
Nicklas Backstrom: always remembered by the Caps fans as a great player, but underestimated, (which should not be) he proved it again in this series. With two goals in Game 5, the second OT goal for the win that gave the series lead to Caps, and his assists (six in the series); Backstrom, as always, proved indispensable for the team and that he deserves to be more valued and recognized by hockey in general.
T.J. Oshie: even injured, Oshie played very well with three goals and one assist in six games of the series. His offensive presence contributes to the goal opportunities for the Caps.
Evgeny Kuznetsov: with four goals and four assists in the series, Kuzy was undoubtedly a great player for the Caps. The Russian has been maintaining a great pace of play since a certain part of the regular season. May the good stage remain, especially for the challenge that will come.
John Carlson: the defense was a cause of great concern for much of the regular season. Carlson probably became the new “sheriff” of this defense, a great name for the deffensive office. In addition to being the defenseman with more points in the league in the regular season, he maintained in the Playoffs this timely performance. With eight assists, in addition to being a great name in the defense, he has been able to help the team offensively. He also scored a goal in the second period of Game 3, which the Capitals won in overtime.
Dmitry Orlov: the Russian has also been standing out as a big name in the Caps defense. With an assist in Game 5 and a goal in Game 6, he added to the great defensive performance next to Niskanen in the same line, Orlov have been one more of the Caps highlights.
Braden Holtby:after not having the best regular season of his career, Holtby was crucial in these playoffs. Entering Grubauer’s place after the Caps start losing the series 2-0, HoltBeast lived up to his name.
Penguins ahead … for the third time in a row:
Both Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins won their series in six games (4-2). They faced each other four times during the regular season, with two wins on each side. Now they face each other for the third consecutive time with the home ice for the Caps. However, Washington also had home ice in their favor in the last two playoff meetings, in which Penguins not only eliminated the Capitals, but also won back-to-back Stanley Cups (2016 and 2017). When asked by a reporter about the reencounter of the great rival, Ovechkin said: “I can’t wait!”
The Round 2 schedule between Capitals and Penguins will be announced after the end of Round 1, which will have the only Game 7 of the round after the Toronto Maple Leafs forced it against the Boston Bruins. Game 7 will be next Wednesday, April 25th.