Alex Ovechkin delivers in Capitals' series-clinching win in Columbus

Alex Ovechkin delivers in Capitals' series-clinching win in Columbus

Alex Ovechkin delivers in Capitals' series-clinching win in Columbus

Four times the series was pushed to a Game 7, but the Caps never came out on top. Ovechkin had five goals in the playoff series.

Alex Ovechkin scored two goals as the Washington Capitals advanced to the second round of the playoffs with a 6-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 6 on Monday night. The Penguins won each of the past two years on the way to winning consecutive Stanley Cup championships.

The Capitals are the first team in National Hockey League franchise history to play a combined nine OT games in the opening round of back-to-back postseasons. Which leads to the obvious question: How can this time be different for the Capitals, when so much seems eerily familiar? Game 6 of the Capitals first-round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets was the latest example.

Yes, for the third time in three years, the Capitals will play the Penguins, hoping to take down the defending Stanley Cup champions and advance out of the second round of the playoffs and to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since the 1998 season, when the team made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Momentum was shifting to the home team, but Ovechkin would soon quiet the sellout crowd of 18,637 at Nationwide Arena.

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In 2009, the Penguins won an epic seven-games series that featured the famous Game 2 that saw Alex Ovechkin and Crosby both tally hat tricks. That's the way we want it.

In the past two seasons, Washington and Pittsburgh were set on a collision course in the second round thanks to the NHL's bracketed playoff format, something that Capitals coach Barry Trotz lamented at the NHL All-Star Game earlier this season.

Maple Leafs 3, Bruins 1: Frederik Andersen stopped 32 shots to lead Toronto over visiting Boston, forcing a decisive Game 7 in the first-round series.

On the other hand, with the Penguins having claimed nine of the previous 10 playoff matchups against the Capitals, isn't it just a matter of time before it swings the other way?

"I do know on the road it seems like for whatever reason we're focused, we're driven", Washington forward T.J. Oshie said. "We just gotta be aware of when he's on the ice and where he is".

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