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game recap

Capitals shut out Lightning again in Game 7, reach Stanley Cup Final

Holtby makes 29 saves; Washington to play Golden Knights for championship

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

TAMPA -- The Washington Capitals are in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 20 years after defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-0 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final at Amalie Arena on Wednesday.

The Capitals will play the Vegas Golden Knights for the Stanley Cup. Game 1 of the best-of-7 series is at Las Vegas on Monday.


[WATCH: All Capitals vs. Lightning highlights | Complete Golden Knights vs. Capitals series coverage]


It will be Washington's second appearance in the Cup Final; it was swept by the Detroit Red Wings in 1998.

"I'm emotional right now," Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin said. "We've been waiting for this moment for a long time."

Braden Holtby made 29 saves for his second consecutive shutout, Andre Burakovsky scored his first two goals of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Ovechkin scored his Washington-leading 12th, and Nicklas Backstrom scored for the Capitals.

Holtby has an active shutout streak of 157:13, not including the 2:14 he missed for an extra skater at the end of Game 5. He has made 60 consecutive saves.

"I think our group here really understands what it means to be a team and how to win," Holtby said. "Maybe in the past we've had more skill or were better on paper, but this team, everyone knows their role, everyone pitches in, everyone is comfortable with each other. I haven't been on a team like this where in any situation we're confident in each other, don't get down on each other. It's just a strong group, and that's really hard to come by, something we're going to need to have going forward."

Video: #ThirstForTheCup: Caps heading to Stanley Cup Final

Andrei Vasilevskiy made 19 saves for the Lightning, who didn't score in the final 159:27 of the series, a stunning turn for a team that led the NHL in scoring in the regular season (3.54 goals per game) and was shut out once in its first 97 games.

Tampa Bay's last goal in the series came from Ryan Callahan 33 seconds into the second period of Game 5.

"What we did to Boston in [the Eastern Conference Second Round] with our 5-on-5 play and not allowing them to create anything, that's what happened to us," said Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, who did not have a point in the final three games. "Washington did that to us."

Ovechkin gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead 1:02 into the game when he scored on a one-timer from the top of the left face-off circle off a pass from Evgeny Kuznetsov.

The Lightning had multiple chances early in the second period to tie it. Victor Hedman hit the left post at 2:33, and Yanni Gourde couldn't get his stick on the puck as it sat in the blue paint with Holtby out of position at 3:20.


[RELATED: Stanley Cup Final schedule | Capitals will play Golden Knights in Cup Final]


Burakovsky extended Washington's lead to 2-0 at 8:59 of the second period. Dan Girardi couldn't handle the puck in the middle of the defensive zone, and Burakovsky took it away and scored on a shot under Vasilevskiy's blocker from the right side.

"It's a dump-in, it hits me in the chest and I was just trying to not close my hand on it and take a penalty," Girardi said. "It just trickled away from me, couldn't get it. It's a tough bounce."

Holtby denied Alex Killorn on a breakaway at 13:36, and Burakovsky scored on a breakaway 2:55 later to make it 3-0 at 16:31.

Backstrom made it 4-0 with an empty-net goal at 16:17 of the third period.

"We've been waiting a long time for this," Backstrom said. "So now we're in the Final and we're going to do everything we can do something special here for us, for the team and for the city."

Video: WSH@TBL, Gm7: Burakovsky nets second of period


Goal of the game

Burakovsky's goal at 8:59 of the second period.

Video: WSH@TBL, Gm7: Burakovsky forces turnover to score


Save of the game

Holtby's save on Killorn's breakaway at 13:36 of the second period.

Video: WSH@TBL, Gm7: Holtby uses blocker to stuff Killorn


Highlight of the game

Ovechkin's goal at 1:02 of the first period.

Video: WSH@TBL, Gm7: Ovechkin buries scorching one-timer


They said it

"First goal was very important, and after that you can see we had all the momentum on our side and [Holtby] was unstoppable today. Our goalie was something special. Everybody was all in, everybody was sacrificing their bodies. That's all it takes." -- Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin


Video: WSH@TBL, Gm7: Ovechkin on going to Cup Final, trophy


"Just know from personal experience, to get this far you need breaks to go your way. I just felt we pressed and pressed and pressed. They got the breaks they needed. We didn't. Over a series, they probably earned those breaks because they've got a [heck] of a team. Obviously, they gave us everything we could handle and more. I congratulate them." -- Lightning coach Jon Cooper


Need to know

Washington is 5-11 in Game 7. … Burakovsky is the second Capitals player to score two goals in a Game 7, joining Dale Hunter (1988 Patrick Division Semifinals against the Philadelphia Flyers). … Kuznetsov extended his point streak to 10 games, a Capitals postseason record. … Washington is 8-2 on the road in the playoffs and needs two wins to tie the NHL record for the most in a single postseason (2012 Los Angeles Kings, 2004 Calgary Flames, 2000 New Jersey Devils, 1995 Devils). … Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly didn't play in the third period. He was injured blocking a shot 6:47 into the game but returned late in the first period to play three shifts. He took four shifts in the second. … Vegas general manager George McPhee was Capitals GM from 1997-2014.


What's next

Capitals: Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS)

Lightning: Season over


Video: Capitals claim Cup Final bid with 4-0 Game 7 win



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