"The Caps went from Presidents' Trophy winners in April to poof in May after being eliminated in Game 6 of their second-round playoff series to Pittsburgh. Since 2000, when the St. Louis Blues went from first in the standings to one-and-done in the playoffs, only four teams that finished the regular season with the best record have gone on to win the Stanley Cup: Chicago in 2013, Detroit in 2008 and '02, and Colorado in 2001. Add in the Vancouver Canucks, who lost the 2011 Cup Final series in seven games to Boston, there have been just as many Presidents' Trophy-winners to reach the final round as have been eliminated in the first round: five each."
Washington has twice won a series after trailing 3-1; against the Rangers in the first round in 2009, and in the division semifinal against the Philadelphia Flyers in 1989. The Capitals will try to become the 29th team in NHL history to win a best-of-7 playoff series after trailing 3-1. The Penguins have lost a series they have led 3-1 three times, most recently in 2014, when they lost to the Rangers in the second round. Washington has lost five series when holding a 3-1 lead.
"You've got to have the belief that if you win one, win the first period, keep going," Barry Trotz said. "If you win one, then things can change. I mean, we were prime candidates to see it firsthand in the Rangers series last year. Hopefully, all we can do is just look at the game in front of us and just take it from there."
Game 1: WSH 4, PIT 3 (OT)
Game 2: PIT 2, WSH 1
Game 3: PIT 3, WSH 2
Game 4: PIT 3, WSH 2 (OT)
Game 5: WSH 3, PIT 1
Game 6: PIT 4, WSH 3 (OT)
Wayne Gretzky: "Everybody has a lot of pride as an athlete and when you're an elite athlete and you play head to head against a guy who is your peer, there is more of a motivation factor. I anticipate both players raising their game to another level. But both guys will tell you and I'm sure you've heard it, they can contribute and they're part of it, but you win and lose as a group. Although they're going to raise their games to another level, the teams around both of those guys have to jump on that train too and get their games to another level. That's what elite players do, though. The players will see their work ethic and the level they get to and that pulls the rest of the guys in the group into it too."
"The Washington Capitals were the victors in a hard-fought six-game Eastern Conference First Round series against the Philadelphia Flyers. Washington shut out Philadelphia in Games 1 and 6, scored five power-play goals in Game 3 and dominated practically every area on the ice during the series, despite being shut out in Game 5. Special teams were a deciding factor; eight of Washington's 14 goals in the series were scored on the power play and its penalty kill shut down the Flyers."
Game 1: WSH 2, PHI 0
Game 2: WSH 4, PHI 1
Game 3: WSH 6, PHI 1
Game 4: PHI 2, WSH 1
Game 5: PHI 2, WSH 0
Game 6: WSH 1, PHI 0
"I went down to the locker room, and Olie Kolzig, who had won a Vezina Trophy, was our goalie then," Ted Leonsis said. "He said, 'That's the greatest player I've ever seen. That's the hardest shot I've ever dealt with.' It was the first practice."
Ovechkin needed one shift in his first regular-season game to put his imprint on the NHL. He hit Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Radoslav Suchy so hard into the end boards that it dislodged a support beam in the glass, knocking it to the ice. Ovechkin scored two goals in a 3-2 Washington win. A career was born.
» NHL.com (Video): Round 2, Gm 4, Capitals at Penguins: Beagle's goal from sharp angle
» NHL.com: "Crosby, Ovechkin close in many areas"
» NHL.com (Video): Round 2 Infographic PIT WSH