By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
The Pittsburgh Penguins advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals thanks to a brilliant performance by their netminder Marc-André Fleury. He stopped 29-shots, as the Penguins defeated the Washington Capitals 2-0 in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference playoffs matchup.
The Penguins will now face the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference Finals. Pittsburgh needed goals by Bryan Rust and Patric Hörnqvist to advance to their next series.
The Capitals have not advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals since 1998. The Penguins will be making their fifth appearance in the Conference Finals in the past decade, including winning the Stanley Cup twice during this time.
Despite having the best record in the regular season, the Capitals have failed to go past the second round for the seventh-time in the Alex Ovechkin era. The Penguins won the series 4-3 after having a 3-1 lead.
Rust is credited with the game-winning goal, as he scored the first-goal of the game. He scored at 8:49 in the second period with assists by Jake Guentzel and Sidney Crosby.
“We’re not in this position moving on if he doesn’t play the way he did,” said captain Sidney Crosby, who assisted on Bryan Rust’s opening goal. “There were times where they had sustained pressure throughout games and he made some big saves that allowed us to stay in the game and allowed us to stay patient. He was huge for us all series long.”
Then in the third period at 4:14, Hörnqvist beat Braden Holtby, the Capitals goalie, for the second goal of the game. Justin Schultz assisted on this goal.
Holtby made 26 saves in the loss.
The Penguins are now 6-0 on the road in Game 7s. They are also 9-1 against the Washington Capitals in the playoffs.
“They just always find a way to respond the right way to any of the challenges or the adversities that this league throws at us, and they did it again tonight,” Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said. “I think these guys are at their best when the stakes are high. … I thought that was the closest thing to the Penguins identity that we’ve seen in the playoffs so far.”
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