The Washington Capitals were unstoppable after getting past their second round demons.
Braden Holtby told Isabelle Khurshudyan of The Washington Post (subscription required) about their focus entering the game and the importance of not letting their emotions get the best of them after a thrilling win over the Penguins.
“One thing we really wanted to focus on was to not have a letdown after, obviously, there’s a lot of emotions through our locker room after that series win. You enjoy it while it’s there, but we had a couple days to just refocus, put it out of our mind and scout the Lightning to see what we could do to have success against them. . . . I think we just went right back to work, and I thought the guys responded really well to this game.”
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Two of those goals came on the power play as the Caps scored twice in the first and twice in the second while allowing two goals in the third.
Later in the period was perhaps the turning point of the whole game. With under eight seconds to go Nikita Kucherov rushed down the ice for a breakaway goal but it was called back for too many men on the ice, putting Washington on the power play.
On the power play attack right off the face-off draw Alex Ovechkin scored on a shot from downtown to make it 2-0 with four seconds remaining in the first period. Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie had the helpers.
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At 6:01 Kucherov was whistled for roughing and the Caps would make them pay on the power play. On the attack, Lars Eller was in front of the net to bang home a rebound. Oshie and Ovechkin had the helpers and the goal came at 6:42.
The Lightning got two back with a power play goal from Steven Stamkos at 3:45 in the third after Alex Chiasson was whistled for slashing. Ondrej Palat cut the deficit in half at 13:03 but that was as close as they would get.
4-2 would go on to be the final as the Caps got off on the right foot in the Eastern Conference Finals.