The Washington Capitals defeated the Philadelphia Flyers, 1-0, April 24, to clinch a ticket out of the first round of the NHL playoffs. The Capitals required six games to eliminate the Flyers after jumping ahead, 3-0, in the series.
Washington will face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The schedule for the series has not yet been released, but the Capitals will host the first two games of the series, as well as the fifth and seventh games if necessary.
Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom scored the lone goal of the afternoon for the Capitals, which was his second goal of the playoffs. It was scored 8:59 into the second period, snapping a 106:21 shutout streak for Philadelphia goalie Michal Neuvirth dating back to the fourth game of the series.
Neuvirth made 12 saves in the first period, which included thwarting a Capitals five-on-three opportunity. The period extended the former Capitals goalie’s dominant play; Neuvirth made 44 stops in Game 5. But Backstrom finally broke through just moments after a Capitals’ power play expired in the second period.
Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin entered the offensive zone after receiving defenseman John Carlson's pass, shrugged aside Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas and fed fellow forward Marcus Johansson. Johansson found Backstrom on the right wing and Backstrom pounded home the decisive tally.
Washington netminder Braden Holtby made 26 saves, capping a six-game effort in which he surrendered just five goals. Holtby shut the door on the Flyers in the third period, stopping 11 shots and turning away chances in the waning moments of the game.
The Capitals and Penguins will battle in the playoffs for the first time since 2009, when Pittsburgh toppled Washington in seven games. The Penguins won Game 7, 6-2, to clinch the series. Ovechkin and Pittsburgh center Sidney Crosby each had a hat trick in the second game of the series.