Holtby confident heading into biggest game of his National Hockey League career, again

Ruben Hill
May 26, 2018

The Capitals defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning in game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals 4-0. That team is going to the Stanley Cup finals to play the Vegas Golden Knights because of that quality over all others.

This Bolts-Caps series has been a good one, and it seems only fitting that it's going all the way.

Washington downed the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-0 on Wednesday in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final. Most of those doubts fell upon goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, who has bounced back to quell any and all of those misgivings by allowing just nine goals in Games 3-6.

Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov - Tampa Bay's top players had a hard night (5 for, 17 against, 22.7 CF%, 0-8 scoring chances) when they were on the ice together during 5-on-5 play in a 3-0 Game Six loss at Washington. Teams that score first in Game 7 are 127-44 (.743) all-time.

But that was regular season and these are totally different teams from what happened during the winter. Tampa Bay, led by Chris Kunitz's nine career Game 7s, has 78. "Our power play has had a lot of success this year and he's a huge part of that, especially in this series".

"Obviously an up-and-down year for him personally, but the way he's bounced back, he's been fantastic all through the playoffs", said forward Devante Smith-Pelly, who scored Washington's second goal on Monday.

The second game on February 4, Vegas would defeat Washington 4-3 in DC. They failed to do so the previous two seasons with better, more skilled teams. However, team captain Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals have proven everyone wrong. The goalie gave a typical hockey player answer. After winning the first two games against the Lightning, the Capitals lost three in a row and were facing elimination heading into Game 6 in Washington on Monday. He's taking fewer penalties than normal, still being physical without being controversial as he's been in the past (linemate Tom Wilson has that area covered) and he's led by example.

Based on the last two rounds, the Capitals should be able to handle the Golden Knights relentless speed game.

The rest of the Caps' cast of characters has changed considerably.

As the Capitals victory looked more and more secure, an elated Ovechkin couldn't help but show his emotions.

"I do like the fact that there will be 19,000 people helping us, willing us to victory", Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. All but five Capitals are in the positives through six games.

Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman stared straight ahead as he stood in a near-empty elevator at Amalie Arena Wednesday night.

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Other reports by Click Lancashire

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