by Elliot Smith
The Washington Capitals threw their tortured history in Game 7 out of the window April 27, using a highlight-reel third-period goal from Evgeny Kuznetsov to pull out a 2-1 victory against the New York Islanders during the decisive contest to capture their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series, 4-3.
With the win, the Capitals advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals for yet another playoff showdown against the New York Rangers, with Games 1 and 2 at Madison Square Garden at a date and time yet to be determined. It will be the fifth time since 2008-09 that the two teams will meet in the postseason.
With the score tied 1-1 and the weight of previous playoff failures starting to hang over the proceedings, Kuznetsov grabbed the puck along the boards, skated across the ice through several Islanders and fired a shot over the shoulder of New York goalie Jaroslav Halak to give Washington a 2-1 advantage.
The Capitals had to withstand a late penalty against John Carlson and the Islanders pulling Halak in the game’s final 2:54, but Braden Holtby was up to the challenge, despite only needing to make 10 saves on the night.
Joel Ward got the Caps on the board in the final two minutes of the second period, jabbing a rebound through the legs of Halak for a 1-0 advantage that had Verizon Center rocking. New York countered in the first five minutes of the third period, with Frans Nielsen going five-hole on Holtby for the equalizer.
The Caps entered the game 3-9 in playoff Game 7s and is 1-4 at home in Game 7s since 2008, but they showed no jitters against the Islanders, controlling the action for most of the contest.
Source: PressBoxOnline.com Baltimore