For the first time in NHL history, the top team from each conference and all division winners were eliminated in the opening round. The Carolina Hurricanes completed a first-round sweep of the division and conference champions when they defeated the Washington Capitals 4-3 in double overtime at Capital One Arena to win Game 7 of the Eastern Conference First Round.
The loss by the Capitals, who won the Metropolitan Division, guarantees there will be a new Stanley Cup champion for the 19th time in 20 seasons. Washington joined the Tampa Bay Lightning (Atlantic Division, Eastern Conference, Presidents' Trophy), Nashville Predators (Central Division) and Calgary Flames (Pacific Division, Western Conference) among teams eliminated in the first round.
The Hurricanes earned their fifth consecutive Game 7 victory when forward Brock McGinn scored at 11:05 of the second overtime. A run that started with the 2006 Eastern Conference Final against the Buffalo Sabres is the fourth-longest in NHL history. The New York Rangers (2012-15), Boston Bruins (1983-94) and Detroit Red Wings (1949-64) share the record with six straight Game 7 wins.
The Hurricanes became the 13th NHL team and second in as many days to rally from down multiple goals and win a Game 7; the San Jose Sharks trailed the Vegas Golden Knights by three goals in the third period Tuesday before coming back for a 5-4 overtime win in the Western Conference First Round. Carolina is the second NHL team to accomplish the feat against the defending Stanley Cup champion. The Los Angeles Kings did it in the 2014 Western Conference Final, rallying for a 5-4 overtime win against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Carolina also earned its first series win since the 2009 Eastern Conference Semifinals, when it defeated Boston in seven games.
The total time of 91:05 made this the longest Game 7 in Hurricanes/Hartford Whalers history, passing the 1992 Adams Division Semifinal against the Montreal Canadiens (85:26). It's the third-longest Game 7 in NHL history, behind the 1987 Patrick Division Semifinals between the New York Islanders and Capitals (128:47) and 1939 NHL Semifinals between the Bruins and Rangers (108:00).
The Hurricanes will face the Islanders in the Eastern Conference Second Round with Game 1 at Barclays Center on Friday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS). New York won the season series 3-1-0, but the teams haven't played since Carolina won 4-3 at Barclays Center on Jan. 8. The Islanders and Hurricanes/Whalers will play in the postseason for the first time.
Video: Hurricanes oust defending champion Capitals in seven
McGinn, Williams make history with Hurricanes
McGinn became the second player in Hurricanes/Whalers history to score an overtime goal in a Game 7, joining Scott Walker in the 2009 Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Bruins. Two other players in Hurricanes/Whalers history have scored a series-clinching goal in overtime: Martin Gelinas in Game 6 of the 2002 Eastern Conference Final against the Toronto Maple Leafs and Cory Stillman in Game 6 of the 2006 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals at the Montreal Canadiens.
McGinn is the 12th NHL player to score the winning goal in a Game 7 that required multiple overtimes and first since Chris Kunitz of the Pittsburgh Penguins scored in the second OT in the 2017 Eastern Conference Final against the Ottawa Senators. He's the first Hurricanes/Whalers player to score the winner in any Stanley Cup Playoff game that required multiple overtimes.
Carolina forward Justin Williams, who had the primary assist on McGinn's goal, extended his NHL-record for Game 7 points to 15 (seven goals, eight assists) in nine games. His eight Game 7 assists are fourth in NHL history behind Doug Gilmour (10 in 11 games played), Jaromir Jagr (10 in eight games) and David Krejci (nine in 10 games).
Video: CAR@WSH, Gm7: McGinn displays late heroics in 2OT win
Game 7 stats
Capitals forwards Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin played in a Game 7 for the 12th time in their NHL careers. The only NHL players who have competed in more Game 7s are Patrick Roy (13), Scott Stevens (13) and Zdeno Chara (13).
Each of the past six Stanley Cup champions have won at least one Game 7. Since 1987, when all rounds became best-of-7, 21 of 31 Cup winners have won at least one Game 7 en route to winning a title.
The team that scores first is 129-46 (.737) in 175 Game 7s, including 1-2 in 2019. Home teams are 102-73 (.582) and 22-21 in overtime.
Ten of the 46 games in the first round (21.7 percent) required overtime, matching the total from the entire 2018 postseason (10 of 84, 11.9 percent).
Video: CAR@WSH, Gm7: Hurricanes, Caps exchange handshakes
Bruins, Blues host second-round openers
The second round of the playoffs begin Thursday when the Bruins play the Columbus Blue Jackets at TD Garden (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS) and the St. Louis Blues face the Dallas Stars at Enterprise Center (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS).
The Bruins and Blue Jackets are playing in the postseason for the first time. Columbus is coming off its historic first-round sweep of the Lightning and advanced past the opening round of the playoffs for the first time since entering the NHL in 2000. The Bruins needed seven games to eliminate the Maple Leafs for the second straight season.
Boston was 2-1-0 against Columbus during the regular season, with all four games played within the final four weeks. The Bruins and Blue Jackets combined for 22 goals, an average 7.3 per game.
Dallas and St. Louis are playing each other in the playoffs for the 14th time, with the Blues holding a 7-6 series edge against the Stars/Minnesota North Stars. They've split the four series since the Stars relocated to Dallas in 1993-94, with the Blues winning the past two, including a seven-game victory in the 2016 second round.
The Stars are 6-1-0 in their past seven games against the Blues, dating Dec. 29, 2017.