ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Alex Ovechkin scored early and Andre Burakovsky added two second-period goals to help the Washington Capitals put a decade of playoff frustration behind them with a 4-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final Wednesday night.
Braden Holtby stopped 29 shots for his second straight shutout and the Lightning, who led the NHL in goals during the regular season, failed to score in the last 159 minutes, 27 seconds — a stretch of nearly eight periods.
Ovechkin, who had never played a team that advanced beyond the second round, scored 1:02 into the winner-take-all showdown he had described as probably the “biggest game in my life.”
Nicklas Backstrom had an empty-netter to complete the rout.
To earn a spot in the Stanley Cup Final, where they’ll play the Vegas Golden Knights, the Capitals beat the top-seeded Lightning three times on the road, improving to 8-2 away from home this postseason.
It’s Washington’s first Cup Final appearance since 1998 and the first during Ovechkin’s 13-year career.