Carolina Hurricanes win, 4-3
• Game recap: Washington ran out of gas in its Stanley Cup defense. Read more
• Statistical stars: It wasn't a pretty win for Carolina, but it was a win all the same. Read more
• Game highlights: The moment-by-moment account of how Washington's Stanley Cup defense came to an end. Read more
• Postgame reading: A look back at the see-saw series. Read more
Final score: Hurricanes 4, Capitals 3 (2OT)
Capitals run out of gas, lose in double overtime
By Isabelle Khurshudyan
The Washington Capitals stayed seated on their bench, waiting for the Carolina Hurricanes to finish celebrating. Some players had their heads down, looking away. Others watched with pained expressions. That was them back in June, when they dogpiled before hoisting the Stanley Cup above their heads one by one. This season was dedicated to doing it all over again. Instead, it ended in April.
Brock McGinn’s double-overtime goal, off a centering pass that he tipped in front of the net, gave the Hurricanes a 4-3 victory in Game 7 on Wednesday night in Capital One Arena, ending the Capitals’ bid to defend their franchise-first title. In this pivotal contest, they twice were ahead by two goals but gave their lead away, and then they were slow and sloppy in both overtimes.
“It’s kind of situation where the season is over and you understand that,” captain Alex Ovechkin said. “We fight through 82 games, and in Game 7, they score one goal, and it’s a kind of situation where you’re disappointed, you’re frustrated — especially after last year.”
There were chants of “back to back!” as the first overtime started, some hopefulness that this season still could end as magically as last year’s did. But Washington would need to shoot the puck for that to happen, and the Capitals looked gassed for the majority of overtime. They let the Hurricanes get nine shots on goal before tallying one. Goaltender Braden Holtby, who looked shaky in the second and third periods, delivered with 11 stops, the only reason Washington lasted as long as it did.
Ovechkin had the best chance of the first extra frame, a one-timer with 1:48 remaining, but it bounced off Hurricanes goaltender Petr Mrazek’s mask, causing it to pop off. Ovechkin stood there, his head hanging back in frustration. For all that he has accomplished, he has never scored an overtime game-winner in the playoffs.
“Obviously, this group of guys has been in different positions — hard times, good times — and we never said, ‘It was his mistake’ or it was somebody’s mistake,” Ovechkin said. “It was our mistake. We didn’t execute. We didn’t sometimes play the right way.”
The Capitals had gotten lucky when the referees missed a delay-of-game penalty on Brett Connolly after he sailed the puck over the glass in the first overtime. The Hurricanes were then whistled for that same infraction 2:02 into the second overtime. Then 48 seconds into the man-advantage, Coach Todd Reirden called for a timeout to buy his top power-play unit some rest and keep it on the ice. But for a third time in the game, the power play was a source of lament rather than strength, with some boos coming down from the stands. McGinn’s goal came not long after, 11:05 into the frame.
“They played a consistent style of hard work, and in the end, that’s what beat us,” Holtby said. “You’ve got to give credit where credit is due. On paper, you wouldn’t expect them to be the team that they are. That’s a credit to them and their coaching. They play a team game, and that’s why the series was so close. We just came on the wrong end of it.”
The Capitals had to play just one Game 7 in their Stanley Cup run last season, and it wasn’t on home ice, where Washington is 2-6 in the Ovechkin era. In past years, he was criticized most after losses such as this one, but he was the most dominant player in this series. He tallied four goals and five assists and led the team in hits, a skilled and physical showing with all facets of his game on display.
He delivered a highlight 6:23 into Wednesday’s game. After Andre Burakovsky lifted the Capitals to an early lead, Ovechkin made a move around Carolina defenseman Dougie Hamilton to enter the offensive zone. He then toe-dragged around Jaccob Slavin before passing to Tom Wilson all alone at the side of the net for a 2-0 lead.
As the Capitals’ supporting cast largely struggled in this round, the top line of Ovechkin, Wilson and center Nicklas Backstrom did the heavy lifting. That trio had accounted for 11 of the team’s 17 goals entering Game 7.
“Obviously, we thought the first two periods, we dominated,” Ovechkin said.
“They are not going to roll over, and we didn’t do enough to fend them off, really,” defenseman John Carlson said.
Carolina had managed to hang around all series, and Wednesday was no different. The Capitals could have extended their lead on a power play in the first period, which they didn’t record any shots on, and then on their man-advantage in the second frame, Sebastian Aho’s shorthanded shot went off Holtby’s glove when the goaltender failed to catch it. Aho scored on the rebound to cut Washington’s lead to 2-1.
The Capitals responded with a goal from Evgeny Kuznetsov on a three-on-one, his first tally of the series, and while they again had chances to pull away, it was the Hurricanes who again drew closer. Teuvo Teravainen scored in front, and when Hurricanes center Jordan Staal tied it just 2:56 into the third period, a nervous energy reverberated through Capital One Arena. That was a goal Holtby pointed to after the game as one he felt he should have stopped.
“I think we were all guilty of some mistakes at different times that were maybe a little uncharacteristic of us,” defenseman Brooks Orpik said. “Two two-goal leads at home within the same game is kind of a tough one to swallow. I don’t know if unacceptable is the right word, but you have to be able to maintain those leads, especially on home ice and this time of the year.”
Washington had its chances. There was a Burakovsky attempt that slid across the crease, then the puck that got behind Mrazek with Backstrom standing right next to it but unable to swipe it across the goal line before it was whacked away. Then there was the post that forward Jakub Vrana’s shot hit in double overtime. Perhaps it was the mark of a tight team, players failing to execute at critical moments. This series had been so close that it taking two overtimes in Game 7 to decide was fitting, and ultimately the team that played better for the bulk of the matchup won.
The Capitals made their ambitions for this season known with “back-to-back” chants that forward T.J. Oshie led at the team’s championship parade in June. As Washington took a 3-0 lead in the first period of the first game of this series, fans at Capital One Arena cheered those words again, with the Capitals appearing well in control of that game and the series. But unlike last postseason, when the team won 10 of its 13 road games, Washington couldn’t win in the Hurricanes’ PNC Arena, and Carolina carried the momentum from its 5-2 Game 6 win Monday into Wednesday’s Game 7. Throughout the series, the Hurricanes’ forecheck gave the Capitals fits coming out of its own zone, and the inability to solve that ultimately decided it.
Injuries to top-four defenseman Michal Kempny (torn hamstring) and Oshie (broken collarbone in Game 4) hurt Washington, but that can’t be used as an excuse when Carolina was without two top-six forwards Andrei Svechnikov and Micheal Ferland for most of the series.
At the end, the Capitals waited for the Hurricanes to leave the ice before they raised their sticks in a final salute to their fans. A long summer was ahead.
“It’s over,” Ovechkin said. “It’s hard, especially after last year, but nothing you can do right now, right?”
1. Brock McGinn: game-winning goal plus an assist, four shot attempts including two scoring chances
2. Teuvo Teravainen: goal, team-highs for shot attempts (nine) and high-danger chances (three)
3. Jaccob Slavin: Nine shot attempts and two scoring chances, including one rebound attempt
This wasn’t the prettiest win, but now that the dust is settled it’s easy to pick out a few bright spots for the Hurricanes. First and foremost, Carolina dominated at even strength for most of the series, generating shots from all over the ice. Their top line of Teuvo Teravainen, Sebastian Aho, Nino Niederreiter was particularly troublesome for Washington, and will certainly test the defense of their upcoming opponent, the New York Islanders, who allowed the fewest goals from the scoring chance area this season.
The O.G. Mr. Game 7 strikes again, in a way, and Carolina wins 4-3: A seemingly innocuous pass by Justin Williams, A.K.A. “Mr. Game 7,” threw a puck to the net off a faceoff win in the Capitals’ zone with 8:55 remaining in the second overtime. Brock McGinn redirected it past Braden Holtby and Washington’s dreams of a second-straight Stanley Cup are over.
Scraaaaaaape: Midway through the second overtime, the ice crew is shoveling again but we’re still tied at 3. According to NBCSN, this is now the third-longest Game 7 in NHL history.
Power play squandered for Capitals early in second OT: Washington seemed to get away with a delay of game penalty in the first overtime but Carolina was nailed after Saku Maenalanen was nailed for throwing the puck over the glass from the defensive zone just 2:02 into the second overtime. The Capitals had the man-advantage and their best chance to win the game since owning a two-goal lead in the second period. Washington could not convert, however.
Holtby stabilizes Capitals: Braden Holtby was shaky in the third but stellar in overtime, stopping 11 pucks including five from high-danger areas. Two of Carolina’s chances in OT were some of the team’s best of the night: Teuvo Teravainen’s wrister from eight feet away had a 26 percent chance of going in per Moneypuck’s analysis and Sebastian Aho’s tip from 12 feet away is a goal 27 percent of the time. Aho had another solid two-on-one opportunity with one minute left in the extra frame but couldn’t get his stick on the puck. — Neil Greenberg
End of first overtime: Capitals 3, Hurricanes 3 | Carolina was dominant in the opening minutes of overtime and preserved that advantage for almost all of the first extra period. It has been a recurring narrative that winning a Stanley Cup is so taxing on a team that it tires them out significantly in the following year. There’s not much in this game, nor Game 6, that would refute that on the Capitals’ behalf. Carolina had more energy, more shots, and seems the better prepared team for the second overtime tonight.
Orpik upsets Aho: If you’re a fan of either team, I hope you don’t like breathing because the last few minutes of overtime have produced several gasp-inducing moments. The latest was a two-on-one by the Hurricanes in which Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik disrupted a feed to Sebastian Aho (narrowly) to prevent a potential game-winning shot attempt.
At 1:48, nearly Ovi: Nicklas Backstrom’s board play nearly won the game for Washington and gave Alex Ovechkin his first-ever playoff overtime winner, but Petr Mrazek’s mask kept it out, and then exploded off the goalie’s head.
Brett Connolly, Capitals narrowly evade devastating penalty: No one seems to like the puck-out-of-play penalty, but based on NBCSN replays, the Hurricanes probably deserved one when Connolly sent a puck out of play from (just) inside the Caps’ blue line at 12:20 of overtime.
Canes dominate start of OT: Carolina recorded the first eight shots of overtime, but Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby proved equal to the challenge. Washington started to turn the tide around the midway mark of overtime but Chandler Stephenson has the only shot on goal of the extra frame to this point. Washington has long preached it values shot quality over shot quantity, but this doesn’t seem to be what the Capitals meant with that ethos.
Holtby on point early: Braden Holtby has not had his best game in Game 7, but in two chances in the first two-and-a-half minutes he’s saved Washington from defeat, once on a redirection in the first minute of overtime and a pair at the 2:11 mark off shots from Nino Niederreiter and Teuvo Teravainen at point-blank range.
End of third period: Capitals 3, Hurricanes 3 | Silver lining for Capitals as OT looms: As we head into overtime it is worth noting Washington is tilting the ice in their favor, one of the few times in the series that’s been the case. The Capitals lead in even-strength shot attempts (39 to 24), scoring chances (19 to 15) and opportunities in the slot or crease (8 to 4).
Alex Ovechkin leads all skaters with six shot attempts (three scoring chances) and has arguably played his best game in a few years. The third line of Andre Burakovsky, Lars Eller and Brett Connolly also continues to shine, outshooting Carolina 12 to 6 through 10 minutes of ice time in addition to scoring the first goal of the game.
Carolina Coach Rod Brind’Amor has to be unhappy with what he’s seen from his energy line of Warren Foegele, Lucas Wallmark and Jordan Martinook. Those three have been outshot 15 to 5 with two goals against in less than 10 minutes of action. — Neil Greenberg
Brock McGinn saves the game for Carolina and game heads to OT: A shot from Tom Wilson leaked through the pads of Hurricanes goaltender Petr Mrazek and was flirting with the goal line but no other Capitals player could tap it home before McGinn could dive and clear it away with 2:22 remaining and now we’re heading to overtime. This won’t be tense at all.
T.J. Oshie whips up the crowd: Injured forward T.J. Oshie just came out into the view of the Capital One Arena crowd to try to rally Capitals fans to a win in Game 7. It was easily the loudest it’s been since the start of the third period. Can the injured forward help urge his team to a win?
Hockey is happening: A whoooooooole lot of Game 7 just transpired with a whole lot of stress and a whole lot of nothing in the scoring department. The final flourish before the whistle with 5:13 left in regulation included a bouncing puck just in front of the crease of Braden Holtby, which surely made every Washington fan hold their breath before the whistle blew it dead for a much needed respite and commercial break.
Jordan Staal ties it in third for Hurricanes: One of the most veteran Hurricanes players has knotted the game three minutes into the third period as Jordan Staal barreled down the right side of the ice and then wristed home a shot into the far side of the net against Braden Holtby who appeared to be well off his line. The game is tied and now the true test begins for a Washington team that has struggled throughout its franchise history in Game 7s. The crowd is much quieter now.
Well, um, buckle up: Evgeny Kuznetsov, missing for most of the playoffs, finally scored, giving him his first goal of the 2019 playoffs. He should have scored earlier in the first period: second-chance attempts like the one he had in the first frame light the lamp almost a third of the time league-wide, per Moneypuck’s shot quality data.
That’s been one of the few bright spots for Washington’s second line. Kuznetsov, along with Jakub Vrana and Carl Hagelin, have been outshot (again) by Carolina 4 to 1 at even strength as a trio and they were all on the ice for Teuvo Teravainen’s goal against just a few minutes after Kuznetsov’s tally.
The Capitals’ fourth line -- Chandler Stephenson, Nic Dowd and Devante Smith-Pelly -- on the other hand, have been quietly effective: they have three shot attempts and two scoring chances, one from the slot, in just over three minutes of ice time.
Washington’s win probability has slipped a bit. The Capitals now have a 76 percent chance to advance to the second round of the playoffs heading into the third period, per Moneypuck’s win probability model. If they score the next goal that rises to 90 percent. If Carolina does, it drops to a 50/50 coin flip. — Neil Greenberg
End second period: Capitals 3, Hurricanes 2 | Washington continues to have opportunities to pull away, but cannot separate from Carolina entering the third period, which is sure to be an adrenaline-pumping affair for both sides. The Capitals couldn’t convert two strong scoring chances in the first period when Alex Ovechkin couldn’t quite muscle home a puck on the goalline with Carolina goalie Pter Mrazek out of the net, and a pass just prior to a power play eluded the stick of Carl Hagelin. In the meantime, Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour summed up his team’s performance by saying his team was “playing like crap right now," before his team was able to whittle the Capitals’ lead to a mere goal heading into the third period.
Hurricanes won’t go away, make it 3-2: While Carolina kept the puck in the Washington zone, Sebastian Aho lifted the stick of Evgeny Kuznetsov off the ice, allowing it to reach Teuvo Teravainen, whose quick release beat Capitals netminder Braden Holtby from the slot to again narrow the margin to a single goal. It’s clear the Hurricanes are not going to back down with just over 22 minutes remaining in regulation for Game 7.
T.J. Oshie chants are back: Caps fans will apparently never forget the injury to T.J. Oshie, as fans have resumed chanting his name in the waning stages of the second period.
Spotted ... Evgeny Kuznetsov: Just as the Canes closed the gap, the Capitals’ leading point producer from last season’s Stanley Cup Playoffs found the back of the net at the 13:22 mark, as Evgeny Kuznetsov scored on an odd-man rush and then gave an abbreviated birdman celebration as Washington reclaimed its two-goal cushion.
Aho closes the gap for Carolina: Sebastian Aho, arguably Carolina’s most-gifted offensive player, has given the Hurricanes some life midway through the second with a shorthanded goal. Aho threw the puck on Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby, who could not control it, and Aho potted the rebound under Holtby’s pads to narrow the margin to 2-1 in favor of the Capitals. For Washington, it’s the first misstep in an otherwise strong game.
Jordan Martinook just used up all his slack: Nick Jensen pinched down to help the Capitals maintain possession just over the midway mark in the second period and was taken down along the end boards by Jordan Martinook who had already earned the officials’ attention after his work on Brooks Orpik and Orpik’s ensuing complaints. The referee called the penalty from mid-ice to give Washington a power play.
Jordan Martinook slams down Brooks Orpik from behind: An NBCSN replay showed Jordan Martinook, who put the hit on Andre Burakovsky that slammed him into Trevor va Riemsdyk’s leg, chasing down Brooks Orpik from behind, wrapping his arm around his upper body and pulling him backwards, which resulted in Orpik’s head slamming into the ice. The play went uncalled by the officials, but sent Orpik to the bench in some discomfort. He returned to the ice just before eight-minute mark in the second period and immediately took issue with Martinook after a stoppage in play.
Trevor van Riemsdyk down the tunnel: The Hurricanes may be down a defenseman after Trevor van Riemsdyk had Andre Burakovsky checked into his knee/lower leg during play in the second period. He tried to skate it off during a break in play, but then summoned a trainer and went back to the locker room.
End first period: Capitals 2, Hurricanes 0: Alex Ovechkin will have everyone talking about his assist tonight -- make sure you see it (Editor’s note: Let us help) -- but Washington’s third line might have put in its best effort of the series. Andre Burakovsky opened the scoring with his first goal of the series and Lars Eller looked like a heat-seeking missile on that shift, making two solid hits to open up the ice. As a trio, the Capitals’ third line has outshot Carolina 6 to 2 in just three minutes and 28 seconds of ice time at even strength.
Washington’s netminder Braden Holtby also deserves more credit for stopping Sebastian Aho at the doorstep early in the period when Washington was defending a 1-0 lead. According to Moneypuck’s analysis, a wrister from nine feet away like the one Aho put on Holtby usually lights the lamp 27 percent of the time. Instead, the Capitals held the lead, got the next goal and enter the second period with an 82 percent win probability for Game 7. — Neil Greenberg
Hurricanes get a chance to close the gap: Nicklas Backstrom took at uncharacteristically bad penalty after impeding Sebastian Aho entering the zone after he distributed the puck, earning a two-minute minor penalty. After a dominant first period to this point this is the sort of incident a team leading 2-0 would want to avoid with three minutes left in the period. After a blocked shot by Carl Hagelin (that had to sting) that earned the praise of Alex Ovechkin from the bench, the Capitals killed off the penalty with just over 55 seconds left in the first.
Capitals get power play, but can’t extend the lead: After a high hit on Nick Jensen and a hit from behind on Chandler Stephenson went without a penalty, Washington finally earned a power play after Jonas Siegenthaler was tripped up on an odd-man rush with around 6:30 left in the first period. The play very nearly ended in a goal but the puck narrowly eluded the stick of the snake-bit Carl Hagelin when he had an open net. Washington failed to convert on the power play, but still lead 2-0.
Faulk, McKegg keep margin at 2-0: Alex Ovechkin nearly put Washington up by three when a loose puck squirted around the stick-side post of a sprawling Petr Mrazek, but defenseman Justin Faulk and center Greg McKegg managed to redirect Ovechkin’s stuff attempt and muscle clear the puck from the goal line, a play that keeps this game within striking distance for Carolina. After a 2-0 start for Washington, this isn’t a play that may draw a ton of attention at the moment, but if the score gets closer later in this contest that’s a play that could matter a whole lot.
And like that, it’s 2-0: Tom Wilson potted a layup off a feed from Alex Ovechkin at the 6:23 mark to relieve any potential anxiety among the Washington faithful and inject a ton of confidence into the Capitals, who have claimed throughout the playoffs that adversity is nothing to shy away from and that they are equal to the moment. So far, they’re showing it. Now they’ll have to prove they can play with the lead and lock down a ticket to a second-round meeting with former coach Barry Trotz and the New York Islanders.
Wilson’s goal accounted for the new margin, but Ovechkin’s curl-and-drag to set it up was ... well, just watch.
Capitals lead 1-0 after Burakovsky makes a bid to become new “Mr. Game 7”: Andre Burakovsky, who scored two goals last season in Washington’s Game 7 win over Tampa Bay, turned in an epic shift to start the game, looking dangerous off the rush, then grinding on the forecheck, winning the puck and weaving through the low slot before wristing a shot past Petr Mrazek to give the Capitals a 1-0 lead 2:13 into Game 7.
There was a good chunk of the season that revolved around whether or not the Capitals would trade Burakovsky, with the consensus being that they would not because the return value in a trade -- after a lengthy list of injuries and a sluggish start to the 2018-19 season -- didn’t justify the move. Well, he may have just validated that thinking right there. He was always seen as a high-upside player who just needed to get a little confidence. That first goal has to be a big boost for Burakovsky.
Underway: Game 7 is underway, with Evgeny Kuztnetsov’s line squaring off against Jordan Staal’s (and “Mr. Game 7” Justin Williams’s) line. So, what should you look for early? In addition to our top story lines and players to watch (see above), the crowd will be an interesting component to the game. The Stanley Cup changed everything for Washington, but the scars that preceded last season are deep and an early Carolina goal could bring back all the feels of the pre-Cup days. Early guess? The fans will be loud and behind the Capitals from start to finish. Oh, and the "Mr. Game 7″ broadcast mention over-under should be set about about 24.
Svechnikov is out for Canes: Forward Andrei Svechnikov will miss the final game of this series, as reported by NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti, after he showed up dressed in a suit prior to Game 7. Svechnikov has been out since fighting Alex Ovechkin in Game 2 and striking his head on the ice as he fell from a right-hand blow from the Capitals’ captain.
The pig is here: In a surprising development, Hamilton the Pig, he (it?) of Carolina Hurricanes good-luck charm fame, is in the District of Columbia. It’s possible Metro has issued a B.O.L.O. for the Carolina swine, but you have to applaud the effort to schlep a hog through Virginia Ham country to get to Game 7. That said, all Caps fans smell right now is bacon. Read more on the adventures of the most famous pig since Spider-Pig, and perhaps since Wilbur, in this must-read article from Scott Allen here.
The entirety of The Post’s coverage of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.