It was just past 6 a.m. in Finland when the Washington Capitals exorcised two decades of playoff demons to advance to the Eastern Conference finals. Right wing Evgeny Kuznetsov buried an overtime breakaway in the back of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ net to give the Caps a 4-2 series win and push the club to hockey’s final four for the first time since 1998.
And then, the celebration was on — even in the wee hours of a separate continent.
That’s a lot of words for 6 a.m.! But while it seems as though this young Finn is invoking the spirit of 16-time world champion John Cena after watching Washington break through in overtime, he’s really just repeating “that’s it” as he fights off the disbelief his beloved Caps somehow, finally found a way to eliminate the Penguins from the playoffs.
Translation: KUZNETSOV! KUZNETSOV! KUZNETSOV! KUZNETSOV! KUZNETSOV! .. PITTSBURGH HAS BEEN BEATEN! PITTSBURGH HAS BEEN BEATEN! PITTSBURGH HAS BEEN BEATEN! .. THAT’S IT! THAT’S IT! THAT’S IT! ... THIS CAN’T BE REAL!!! .. THAT’S THE GAME! . THAT’S THE SERIES! .. KUZNETSOV DOES IT!— NoVa Caps (@NoVa_Caps) May 8, 2018
It’s a sentiment plenty of Washington fans can share. A Penguins’ triumph in the second round seemed a foregone conclusion thanks to the recent history between these two teams. Before Monday night, Alex Ovechkin and his Capitals had faced Pittsburgh three times in the second round of the playoffs and lost all three. Kuznetsov’s goal punched through that barrier, and now the team is just eight wins from its first Stanley Cup.
Washington will return to the ice later this week to face the Tampa Bay Lightning for the Eastern Conference crown. Fans in Finland should be hoping for a smattering of day games, which would at least let them get to bed at a reasonable hour.