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Burakovsky the hero against childhood idol

by Staff Writer / Washington Capitals

WASHINGTON -- Washington Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky spent a large portion of his childhood idolizing New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.

On Wednesday, Burakovsky scored his first two Stanley Cup Playoff goals -- against Lundqvist -- to help the Capitals to a 2-1 win in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Second Round at Verizon Center.

"Obviously he's been my favorite goalie since I grew up," Burakovsky said. "He's kind of close to my hometown so I've been watching him my whole life. It's a pretty special moment for me to score two goals on Lundqvist in such an important game as this."

Burakovsky's first goal tied the game at 16:29 of the second period. After intercepting a pass from Rangers forward Chris Kreider, he held the puck and skated through the slot toward the right wall, exhibiting admirable patience in outlasting Lundqvist to make it 1-1.

"I wasn't really planning it, it just happened," Burakovsky said. "I don't know how to describe it. It's just in my head, guiding me sort of. I'm just trying to take the puck to the net."

His second goal, which proved to be the game-winner, came 24 seconds into the third period. Burakovsky stole the puck from Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh and was unchallenged while he closed in on Lundqvist and finished with a backhand shot.

Getting a chance to play was a challenge for Burakovsky at the start of the playoffs. He was a healthy scratch until Eric Fehr was injured in Game 3 of the first round, but Burakovsky finally got the opportunity he'd been trying to prove he was worthy of having from the beginning.

"When I was out there, I just want to get back in as fast as possible," Burakovsky said. "I want to prove I don't belong in the stands, I belong on the ice all the time."

Washington's third line of Burakovsky, Jay Beagle and Troy Brouwer has factored into the game-winning goals in Games 3 and 4 of this best-of-7 series, which the Capitals lead 3-1. Beagle scored the game-winner in Game 3 on Monday, a 1-0 victory. Burakovsky had an assist.

The Capitals can advance to the Eastern Conference Final with a win in Game 5 at Madison Square Garden on Friday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

With the Rangers focusing in on top forwards Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, secondary scoring is imperative. Beagle, Brouwer and Burakovsky have provided a large dose of it for the Capitals.

"It's a matter of us just finding chemistry together," Beagle said. "I played with [Burakovsky] a little bit during the season, but not a lot, so it takes a little bit to get rolling. I think all three of us complement each other."

The two veterans on the line, Brouwer and Beagle, have taken Burakovsky under their wings. Beagle is continually impressed with the rookie forward's progress and said it's a combination of skill and an attention to detail.

"It's the little things that he's doing right," Beagle said. "At the beginning of the game when we were getting it deep, he makes a couple good dumps where me and [Brouwer] could get in on the forechecking and generate chances from that."

When Burakovsky made the Capitals roster out of training camp, coach Barry Trotz said he always tried to do what was best for Burakovsky's progress, even if it meant he had to watch a few games from the press box.

Burakovsky had nine goals and 13 assists in 53 regular-season games.

"He's got a lot of growth in his game. Where his ceiling is, I couldn't tell you," Trotz said. "He's 20-years-old. … The elements are there of a very competitive, talented young player who's got speed and skill and awareness and a lot courage. He's got a lot of confidence. I don't know what the ceiling is for a player like that."

Author: Katie Brown | NHL.com Correspondent

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