CAROLINA HURRICANES 4 WASHINGTON CAPITALS 3 (2OT)- (Carolina wins series 4-3)
If they’re not out already, I am sure they’re coming. Articles bemoaning this cursed playoff, and how awful it is that the 4 division champions will now be supplying various nations at the upcoming World Championships instead of competing for the Stanley Cup. We’re going to be told that it’s bad for hockey. They’re going to suggest that this is a sure sign the NHL must intervene and change the playoff format to ensure that something like this doesn’t happen again. And I will be honest, I used to feel that you should get some kind of benefit for finishing first, a bye or whatever. After this first round, I am completely on Team Chaos. They all carried water for Gary Bettman and his ‘parity’ mantra. This is parity, ladies and gentlemen. Raw, unadulterated parity and it is glorious.
Talk about saving the best for last, right? In a series where the team that scored first never gave up that lead, we saw a change in Game 6 where, facing elimination the Carolina Hurricanes came back and won. Would this foreshadow Game 7? Turns out it did, and in a most dramatic way.
The Caps got it going early, and by the time the 1st was over it was 2-0 Washington less than 7 minutes in and it really felt like the Canes had nothing left.
What a sequence from Burakovsky pic.twitter.com/KIke6UR0gR— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) April 24, 2019
The shots were even, but the play felt like a little in favour of the Caps. In the 2nd, Carolina started to come on, but it was during a penalty kill in the middle of period 2 that they got it going with a shorty from Sebastian Aho.
3 and a half minutes later, there’s an Evgeny Kuznetsov sighting for the first time in the series, and yeah, he did the bird thing.
Seems bad, right? Some thought it was the end.
Caps 3-1. Dagger goal. Kuznetsov off the rush.— Chip Alexander (@ice_chip) April 25, 2019
They weren’t done though, and another Finn would step up and make it a 1 goal game again when it suddenly became Teuvo Time:
So that sets up a 3rd period, Caps leading by a goal. The defending Champs against a team that hasn’t been in the playoffs in a decade. It wouldn’t take long for Carolina to tie it up, and it was kind of fitting that Jordan Staal would get the goal.
That’s a bad goal there by Holtby. He’s given Staal a huge amount of space on the side. He doesn’t even need to get it post and in, there’s so much room. Shocking. So despite the Caps outshooting Carolina 12-5 in the 3rd, it ends tied at 3-3 and off to OT we go.
From there, it’s all Carolina. They forced Holtby to come up with some big saves, and outshot the Caps 12-4 in the first OT. By the time the 2nd OT came around, you could tell fatigue was setting in, and then a potential series ending error from Saku Maenalanen, who put a clearing attempt over the glass. Carolina comes up with a huge penalty kill and the period continues.
And that brings us to Justin Williams. The Caps had managed to keep Mr Game Seven off the scoresheet through 4 periods, but he’s Mr Game Seven and you cannot stop him. It’s science, or something. And he sets up Brock McGinn for the winner and just like that, a Bunch of Jerks are going to the 2nd round.
The best part? Check out the reaction from Petr Mrazek:
The Canes will now face the New York Islanders starting Friday, giving us the Sebastian Aho vs Sebastian Aho matchup we have all been dying for. There’s two games tonight, as Boston takes on Columbus at the TD Garden and Dallas is in St Louis to take on the Blues. We’ll have our open thread up for you starting at 3pm Pacific, and we’ll have a 2nd round prediction thread and some other nonsense coming soon.