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Posted at 01:06 AM ET, 04/26/2012

George McPhee: Capitals ‘needed to win a series like this’


(John McDonnell/The Washington Post)
For everyone who said Game 7 seemed like a fitting end to this historically tight series between the Capitals and Bruins, the two teams didn’t disappoint. This winner-take-all contest offered another high-drama, high-anxiety contest.

Washington’s 2-1 overtime win to clinch a first-round series victory over the defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins might have surprised a few people, but it’s what this group has been working toward.

“I’m not surprised. No, I’m just kidding. It feels unbelievable,” Karl Alzner said. “We’re all extremely happy about it and very relieved that all the hard work and just us fighting against what everybody’s been saying about us, we came out on top.”

Said General Manager George McPhee: “We needed to win a series like this, this franchise needed it. Boston’s a fabulous organization….We played them as hard as we could. I don’t know how we did it, but it was nice to see that go in. We needed it.”

More to come on Thursday, but in the meantime, catch all of The Post’s coverage from the Capitals’ electrifying victory in Boston.

— Read about the win in my game story, which you can check out in its entirety here.

— After a subpar regular season, Joel Ward came through in the clutch for the Capitals. Tarik El-Bashir breaks down Ward’s season and the series-clinching goal he scored in overtime Thursday night at TD Garden. And relive the tally over at the D.C. Sports Bog with the audio from John Walton’s call of the goal.

“For me personally, I thought I may have lost a little bit of the respect of my own teammates being on the outside so much,” Ward said. “I definitely do play for the respect of them. When you’re on the outside it’s a little tough.”
Those days, however, seemed so long ago as he spoke in a jubilant visitors’ dressing room at TD Garden. Ward suddenly was the Capitals’ hero.

Columnist Mike Wise takes a look at Dale Hunter and his first playoff series victory as an NHL head coach and how the often reserved bench boss reached out to his players heading into overtime.

Amid the nerves and the angst knowing one team would go home, he trudged nonchalantly around the TD Garden Wednesday, looking almost bored by it all. So unmoved by the moment, he could have been the Zamboni driver smoothing over a patch of ice instead of the coach of the road team playing a Game 7 on the home ice of the defending Stanley Cup champions.
“Don’t you feel pressure?” a team official said.
“Pressure?” Hunter replied. “This is fun.”
Then.
And now.

— See every shot and goal of the Caps-Bruins series with our interactive graphic.

— Photo gallery from Game 7:

By  |  01:06 AM ET, 04/26/2012

 
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