Sports

Washington Capitals take series against Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2

Washington Capitals take series against Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2

The Washington Capitals may have advanced in the playoffs to face the Pittsburgh Penguins next, but Barry Trotz is not ready to talk about that series yet.

After losing in the first round of each of four playoffs in its 17-season history, Columbus remains the only now existing National Hockey League franchise to never have won a playoff series.

Arch-nemesis Pittsburgh! These sides have met ten times in the postseason and Pittsburgh have won eight of those matchups. Holtby has a.932 save percentage in his five games. They know how to play. Capitals D Brooks Orpik had a pair of assists at Columbus, his first multi-point game of the season... Over the final four games of the series, he posted a.935 SP, allowing just nine goals against on 139 shots, and his.924 SP across his four-and-a-half games in the first round was actually slightly better than his expected SP.

Emily Kaplan, national NHL reporter: The Capitals were in a precarious situation. It's one thing if the stars aren't finding much at 5v5 or the power play, but both? "Obviously, it's the Stanley Cup champion back-to-back". As the series went on, they didn't do enough to get good chances in the scoring area, limiting the pressure applied to Braden Holtby.

So they put up one heck of a performance to win this series in six games.

It was the same for Atkinson, whose 24 goals were second only to Panarin's 27 in the regular season. Malkin is dealing with a lower-body injury while Hagelin has an upper-body issue after colliding with Philadelphia's Claude Giroux in Pittsburgh's clinching victory over the Flyers in Game 6.

Surely though at some point the Capitals will defeat the Penguins in the postseason?

The Capitals will again move onto the conference semifinals after being eliminated by Pittsburgh in the second round in each of the past two seasons. Also, I'm happy to report, no beer cans were chucked onto the ice. Nick Foligno had two goals, Pierre-Luc Dubois also scored and Sergei Bobrovsky finished with 22 saves for the Blue Jackets. While the Capitals might not be as strong as they were past year they are still a good team that has the offensive fire power to beat the Penguins.

"We believe in each other", Ovechkin continued. Columbus just doesn't have the offensive depth to overcome that.

Fortunately for head coach Peter DeBoer, San Jose's top line of Joe Pavelski, Evander Kane and Joonas Donskoi helped offset Thornton's absence by combining for 12 points in the series sweep of the Ducks. And you know what? "I think that's why we lean on him so heavy in the playoffs".

Sachin Chandan, ESPN The Magazine researcher: Three things had to have happened.


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