Alex Ovechkin, Capitals put halt to 20-year East finals drought

Caps end Penguins' hex, win series in OT

"Finally we beat Pittsburgh and finally we move to the next round".

"I turned to my wife and gave her a big hug", Capitals owner Abe Pollin said in 1990. "We did it on the road", the coach said after the Capitals, perennial victims of playoff heartbreak, clinched a spot in the conference finals with a 2-1 overtime win.

The Capitals' $7.8 million man proved his worth this season as Ovechkin's emerging co-star, and has become one of the more colorful personalities in the National Hockey League.

Kris Letang scored for the Penguins and Murray finished with 28 saves but couldn't close his legs fast enough to stop Kuznetsov's forehand flick from in close as Pittsburgh's bid at becoming the first team in 35 years to win three consecutive Cups came to an abrupt end. With AP Photos.Evgeny Kuznetsov's breakway goal 5:27 into overtime gave the Washington Capitals a 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 6 and a berth in the Eastern Conference finals for the first time in 20 years.

All the Capitals had known before that goal was death at the hand of the Penguins.

Now, it will live on in D.C. sports lore after Kuznetsov flapped his wings again upon scoring the overtime victor on a breakaway against Matt Murray, joining Calle Johansson (1994) as the only Capitals players to score a playoff series-winning goal against the Penguins.

The sounds of celebration from the Capitals' dressing room in Pittsburgh echoed through the arena hallways.

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One the Capitals believe they're finally ready to pass.

"I can tell you there's not a player, a coach, a trainer, ownership, (general manager) who is not trying to do everything they can to win this series", Trotz said. "I don't really have a word for it".

Since he purchased the Capitals, Leonsis has often taken critical fire for sending the wrong types of messages. Ovechkin has been the heart and soul of the Capitals this whole season and his entire career for that matter, and it showed in this series.

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan lauded Murray despite the loss. The comments were not patronizing.

"I don't know if I could tell you exactly what it would mean", Washington forward T.J. Oshie said. "Hats off to them".

Their stars weren't brighter. "It wasn't from a lack of effort; we ran into a good goalie at his peak". Their resiliency wasn't greater. He takes a beating every time, but he's always been good in the playoffs. It's a recipe that helped them win Game 5 in Nashville, a 6-2 victory on Saturday, and one they will need again Thursday. They took back the home-ice advantage in Game 3 and then held it in Game 5. "The sellout crowd at MCI Center was screaming and waving white pompoms, signs and anything else fans could get their hands on, and the commotion may have been even wilder on the Capitals' bench, where so many players were rubbing defenseman Sergei Gonchar's head that his helmet nearly came off". Previous rosters were more impressive. They also were able to get their sticks into a lot of the Penguins passing lanes.

"Yes and no", Holtby said. Our main goal is still the Stanley Cup.

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