Caps blank Lightning, return to finals after 20 years
TAMPA, Fla.—Andre Burakovsky scored twice, and goalie Braden Holtby produced his second shutout in a row as the Washington Capitals advanced to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 20 years, defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-0 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday night at Amalie Arena in Tampa..
Holtby made 29 saves, sending the Lightning into the offseason with a scoring drought of more than 159 minutes.
Washington meets the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Final, with Game 1 on Monday night in Las Vegas. It will be the second time the Capitals have reached the final, and they're still searching for their first Stanley Cup.
The Capitals lost in the 1998 Stanley Cup Final to the Detroit Red Wings.
Alex Ovechkin opened the scoring Wednesday with an early goal and that set the tone for the Capitals, who won the final two games of the series. They posted victories in three of four games at Tampa in the series.
Nicklas Backstrom added a late empty-net goal.
Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 19 shots.
Ovechkin scored just 62 seconds into the game, unleashing a shot from the left side with the puck going high into the net. Evgeny Kuznetsov had the primary assist, giving him 13 assists during the postseason.
Less than a minute later, the Capitals went on a power play but didn't convert. Through 11 1/2 minutes of play, they had only two shots on goal yet held the lead.
There was no shortage of feisty moments coming off a physical Game 6. Washington's Tom Wilson and Tampa Bay's Braydon Coburn went at it a couple of times, including picking up fighting majors as they came out of the penalty box late in the first period.
Tampa Bay's Victor Hedman had a shot early in the second period bounce off a Washington skate and hit the post.
Burakovsky's first goal of the postseason gave the Capitals a 2-0 edge with 11:01 to play in the second period. He was unchecked after collecting the puck and taking a couple of strides before zipping the puck past Vasilevskiy for the unassisted tally.
In between Burakovsky's goals, Holtby stopped Alex Killorn's mini-breakaway to maintain the two-goal edge. Burakovsky then converted off an assist from John Carlson at 16:31 of the second period.