When looking back over the consecutive playoff runs of 2016 and 2017 that both resulted in winning the Stanley Cup, some of the best games and most fun memories are those which resulted in the Penguins eliminating the Washington Capitals.
And it just so happens that in both 2016 and 2017, the Penguins did so on the same date — May 10th.
After a back-and-forth start to the series with the Penguins splitting games in Washington, holding serve at home and taking a 3-1 series lead, the Capitals held their ground with a big win in Game 5 in Washington and it was back to Pittsburgh for Game 6.
It felt like the Penguins really needed to capitalize on the opportunity to finish things at home and not chance having to play in a winner-takes-all elimination game on the road.
First period, just a few minutes into the game, and Phil Kessel was not messing around. A laser of a shot from well outside the face-off circle beat Braden Holtby clean and it’s 1-0 Penguins.
The rest of the period would go by without any scoring, and early into the second period, things were cooking for the Penguins ahead.
A power-play for the Penguins and who is it with the goal? It’s Phil Kessel again. 2-0 Penguins. 30 seconds later, still on the power-play and Carl Hagelin makes it 3-0.
Things felt like smooth sailing up 3-0 shortly before the midway point of the game — but it was far from over.
T.J. Oshie would get the Capitals on the board just before the end of the second period, setting up for a wild third period.
The Capitals kept bringing it, and Justin Williams drew the Capitals within a goal 7 minutes into the third. 3-2 Penguins. This is where things really got goofy. Within a 2-minute time frame, the Penguins put the puck over the glass THREE TIMES, taking a delay-of-game penalty each time.
With the 2-man advantage, John Carlson tied the game for the Capitals and things didn’t feel great. To overtime it went, and the HBK Line and big-game Nick Bonino would rise to the occasion.
After a remarkable save on a shot from Carl Hagelin, Nick Bonino was able to slide the puck past Braden Holtby and into the empty net behind him. Game. Series. Goodnight.
A year later, and here we are, with the same opponent, but this time in an elimination game on the road.
After the Penguins started out the series with two wins on the road in Washington, the Capitals were able to get a win in Pittsburgh, and stave off elimination in Games 5 and 6, forcing a 7th game back at the Verizon Center.
After a back-and-forth start to the game that went into the 2nd period scoreless, who else would it be to get things going for the Penguins? Big game Bryan Rust.
At one point, our hearts all stopped when Marc-Andre Fleury made an INSANE stick save on Alexander Ovechkin from the slot.
A Capitals turnover led to what felt like an inconsequential shot from Patric Hornqvist, but it made its way over Braden Holtby’s shoulder to extend the Penguins lead to 2-0.
The Penguins would hold on for the remainder of the third period and get the 2-0 shutout win, sending the Capitals packing for the second year in a row.
May 10th is a Great Day for Hockey.