The Washington Capitals are going to the Stanley Cup Finals. That’s a phrase many people thought they’d never hear fans say but the Caps were able to overcome the haunting of past playoff failures to force Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals and put the Tampa Bay Lighting away with a 4-0 victory. They will now move on to face the Cinderella-story Vegas Golden Knights in a Finals series that actually has a story to tell.

It will be the amazing season that is the expansion-franchise Knights versus the Alex Ovechkin-led Capitals who have been one of the hottest teams in hockey, but not been able to take those final steps. Can Ovechkin do it? Or, will the new team in town win it all in dramatic fashion?

Game 7 Notes

Game 7 was all Capitals. Ovechkin scored early and Andre Burakovsky added two second-period goals to ice things for the Caps. Tampa had a chance to get it close in the first but was really never in this one. Caps netminder Braden Holtby stopped 29 shots for his second straight shutout and the Lightning team most thought would march onto the Cup Finals due to their depth and ability to score are going home early. Tampa didn’t score a goal in the final 159 minutes, 27 seconds of their season and that was their undoing.

Andre Burakovsky was the game hero after being a healthy scratch the game before with two goals at the most timely moments.

The Great 8

For Ovechkin, he’ll go down as one the best scorers in the game’s history who had not gotten past the second round of the postseason. He can finally knock that one off his bucket list and with one more round to go you can bet he’ll be motivated. So too, the Capitals excellent road record in the playoffs will help as they head to a Vegas arena that is rocking on even the quietest of nights and a great number of fans will likely be cheering for the little team that could.

There’s a good chance most NHL fans will be behind the Golden Knights. It would be quite the story for an NHL expansion club to defy the odds and win the grand prize. If Tampa had gone on, almost everyone would have been against the Lightning. With the Caps now in the picture, there will be a contingent of fans who won’t be able to deny the fact that it would be nice to see Ovechkin finally win.

A few hours ago, the Stanley Cup Finals had the potential to be one of the more boring Finals series in a long time. Now, it might actually be interesting.