The Washington Capitals, last years Stanley Cup Champions, arrived at the Capital One arena on Thursday in a state of desperation. It was one of win or head home, and for Justin Williams, it was one that would see him feeling redeemed.
The Carolina Hurricanes dominated once again after winning three of the four games in the series and as the final buzzer blew, it was The Hurricanes walking away with another win and shocking many who watched the slow demise of the former champions after ending the third period tied, then going into double overtime to decide the winner.
Justin Williams, who earned the nickname “Mr. Game 7” was smiling with pride as he shook the hand of former teammate Alex Ovechkin. Williams, while speaking with the media post-game about the series said,
“You can kick the snot out of each other and look each other in the eye and say, ‘Man that was a great series, you really pushed us. We pushed each other.”
Washington looked like they were on the way to winning Game 5 until Carolina managed to close the gap and then tie the game 2-2. They then went on to dominate both overtime periods in what ended up being the third longest playoff game in NHL history. Williams’s redemption came in the second overtime period after taking a shot that was redirected by Brock McGinn that went past the pads of Braden Holtby.
That saw the Carolina bench emptying onto the ice and celebrating after eliminating the Washington Capitals, who were favoured to win. However, it the Hurricanes outshot Washington 18-6 in overtime, and it was not hard to see Washington’s heavy guns had little gas left in the tank with each having been on the ice more than 30 minutes. Alex Ovechkin, who had nine points in the series commented that,
“Both teams were tired. Players played a lot of minutes.”
The Capitals, who won their first Stanley Cup in the franchise’s history saw a seven game losing streak mid-season but still managed to finish the regular season in first. However, the missed the boat to end the series in Game 6, and that opened the door for Game 7 and the eventual series win for the Carolina Hurricanes. This is the first time that all four divisional winners in the history of the NHL failed to go beyond the first round. It saw three of those going seven games with the only exception being the Tampa Bay Lightning who lost in four games. Nicklas Backstrom felt the sting and commented that,
“It’s tough right now. It’s tough. Double overtime. Tough one for us. We were up 3-1. Looking back at that, we need to find a way to shut them down there or keep them out of the score sheet there when we got a 3-1 lead. We gave it to them.”
The difference for Carolina is they didn’t let Washington’s two goal lead impact them or change their focus. Sebastian Aho scored their first to bring them within two, Teuvo Teravainen brought them one goal closer, and Jordan Staal’s goal in the third tied it. There were many missed opportunities by both the Capitals and Hurricanes last night, and the odds, based on the first six games that saw the team with home ice advantage winning, were not in Carolina’s favour. Commenting, John Carlson, who plays defence for the Hurricanes said,
“Every opportunity missed is devastating, really. When you don’t do well, it is more than just we were up in the series or the game. It is everything. It hurts.”
The Carolina Hurricanes now advance to round two in the playoffs and will face the New York Islanders. Both are solid teams and will play a series that is too early to call which will win. Those looking to place bets in favour of the Hurricanes will find leading sportsbooks such as Spin Palace Sports offering up some generous signup bonuses are playoff promotions. Register today and get ready for a highly anticipated series.