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PITTSBURGH PENGUINS VS. WASHINGTON CAPITALS

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Well Washington Capitals fans, it finally happened. Your team has advanced beyond Round 2, beating the Pittsburgh Penguins no less, and will get set to face a tough Tampa Bay Lightning club in Round 3. There are a good few storylines to go around, but since it’s only Game 1, we’ll stick with just a couple to start.

For the Capitals, this will be their first trip to the Eastern Conference Final in the Alex Ovechkin era. That’s a good 12 to 13 years of futility while having the greatest goal scorer in a generation. But no more can be heaped onto their shoulders about never having made it this far.

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In keeping on the Washington side, does anyone remember way back when head coach Barry Trotz messed around and started goaltender Philipp Grubauer the first two games against the Columbus Blue Jackets? That seems decades ago. Since those two contests, Braden Holtby has been dynamite in proving his playoff mettle. He was mostly brilliant in six games against the Penguins, allowing 13 goals. Now he has an opportunity to quell the “Washington always chokes” label even further.

Lightning vs. Capitals Game 1:

Date: Friday, May 11

Time: 8:00 p.m., EST

Location: Amalie Arena, Tampa Bay

TV: NBCSN

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The Tampa Bay Lightning come into this series will high hopes probably higher than Washington. After storming through the regular season en route to the top spot in the Eastern Conference, they had no trouble dismantling both the New Jersey Devils and Boston Bruins in five games.

The Bolts will be a difficult test in that they offer plenty of forward depth and scoring. Led by Nikita Kucherov, they also have Brayden Point with 10 points, Steven Stamkos with 10, Ondrej Palat with four goals and eight points, and J.T. Miller has seven points in 10 games.

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