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Today in Hockey History: The Capitals End the Pens’ Streak En Route to 1st Franchise Stanley Cup

May 7, 2018: It was perfectly fitting the Washington Capitals had to end the Pittsburgh Penguins‘ streak of Stanley Cup Championships en route to their first cup win in franchise history.

In case you didn’t know, the Pens and Caps have some history.

See, the Capitals and Penguins faced off 228 times in the regular season and they’ve met in the Stanley Cup playoffs 11 postseasons, second only behind Dallas and St. Louis for expansion franchises.

Not only did the Pens dominate the 90s, winning 5 out of 6 playoff series, (including Petr Nedved’s snipe in quadruple OT in ’96), they continued their success in the 2000s, winning 5 consecutive playoff series between 2000 and 2017.

Plus, of those 10 playoff series victories, the Pittsburgh Penguins went on to win the Stanley Cup 5 times!

To make matters even worse (is that possible?!), the Pens won back-to-back Stanley Cups the years the Capitals won back-to-back President’s Trophy (2016 and 2017) as the top-performing NHL team in the regular season.

It’s really easy to see why Caps fans hate the Penguins!

The Caps’ regular-season success followed by postseason disappointment caused fans and critics to question Ovechkin‘s ability to win a Stanley Cup championship and not just another Rocket Richard Trophy.

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And considering the Pens won the Cup in 2016 and 2017, not too many people were confident in a Caps victory when the teams met in the 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Game 1 didn’t help their cause either as the Caps went up 2-0 only to lose the game 3-2.

But their game 1 defeat sparked the Caps to win 3 of the next 4 games providing a chance to knock off their longstanding rival and reigning Cup champs in game 6.

Game 6 was a goalie-duel with Braden Holtby and Matt Murray only allowing 1 goal each in regulation time.

But just over 5 minutes into overtime a Crosby turnover at the Caps blue line provided Ovi the opportunity to spring Evgeny Kuznetsov on a breakaway against Murray.

With Kris Letang and Brian Dumoulin in hot pursuit, Kuznetsov made no mistake first faking Murray to the backhand before pulling the puck to his forehand and sliding it through Murray’s five-hole.

Powered by their first playoff victory against the Pens since 1994, the Caps went on to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final 4-3, before defeating the Vegas Golden Knights 4-1 in the Stanley Cup Finals.

And it was only appropriate to celebrate the Washington Capitals‘ first Stanley Cup victory with the “summer of Ovi.”


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