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After dropping Games 3, 4, & 5 of the Eastern Conference Final, the Capitals responded with an absolutely dominant Game 6 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the effort and the results were not even close. Not only did the win push the series to a penultimate Game 7 in Tampa Bay, but it proves that this Capitals team has what it takes to win the ultimate prize (the Stanley Cup).
There’s likely few people who, prior to the 2017-18 regular season, pegged the Capitals playing in the Eastern Conference Finals; some even believed the loss of several key players over the previous offseason would lead to the team missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in four seasons. All season long, this season’s Capitals team has shown resiliency time-after-time, a trait that has served them well in a hard-fought playoff run. And while their winning four consecutive games after losing the first two in their first round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets was impressive, this win is by far the most resounding win all season for the Caps, and arguably, the most crucial in franchise history. The Capitals outhit the Lightning 39-19 in tonight’s game and outshot them 34-24. Far and away the Caps were the better team in this game and rightfully so. The push from the players, the composure, the energy generated by the crowd all contributed in what was a huge victory for the Capitals.
Throughout the Alex Ovechkin era, there have been teams that have contained talent good enough to win a Stanley Cup, blowing away competition in the regular season to collapse hopelessly in the playoffs. The Young Guns era provided many a fan with the confidence that the Stanley Cup would be paraded down the streets of Washington, D.C., only to fall short. The 3-7 Game 7 record since 2008 doesn’t matter, the 4-11 franchise record in Game 7 doesn’t matter. What matters is that this team can do what no other team in the 43-year history of the Washington Capitals has been unable to do.
By Michael Fleetwood