Capitals-Islanders Game 7 stirs 'Epic' memories

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There's only been one Game 7 between the Capitals and Islanders, but it has stood the test of time - lots and lots and lots of time - as one of the great games in postseason annals.

The "Easter Epic" in 1987 between Washington and New York lasted long into the night before Pat Lafontaine finally won it for the Islanders in the fourth overtime, giving his team a 3-2 victory in the game and a 4-3 win in the first-round series. New York's Kelly Hrudey made 73 saves in what is still the longest Game 7 in NHL history.

Those two teams will play another Game 7 on Monday night - the first winner-take-all contest of this year's postseason. The Capitals and Islanders both finished the regular season with 101 points, and they've both found time to score 14 goals through the first six games of this series - when they haven't been busy trying to slam each other into the glass.

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Capitals-Islanders Game 7 stirs 'Epic' memories
LANDOVER, MD - APRIL 18: Pat LaFontaine #16 of the New York Islanders takes a slap shot in the fourth overtime of Game 7 of the Patrick Division Semifinals against the Washington Capitals at the Capital Centre on April 18, 1987 in Landover, Maryland. LaFontaine would score on this shot. The Islanders defeated the Capitals 3-2 in the fourth overtime. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)
LANDOVER, MD - APRIL 18: The New York Islanders celebrate on the ice after Pat LaFontaine #16 scored the game winning goal in the fourth overtime of Game 7 of the Patrick Division Semifinals against the Washington Capitals at the Capital Centre on April 18, 1987 in Landover, Maryland. The game lasted 148:47. The Islanders defeated the Capitals 3-1 in the fourth overtime. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)
Canadian ice hockey player Kelly Hrudey, goalkeeper for the New York Islanders, leaves the ice at the end of the Division Semi-Final Game against the Washington Capitals at Capital Centre, Landover, Maryland, April 18 or 19, 1987. The match, called the Easter Epic due to its extreme length, running over onto Easter Sunday, ended with an Islander goal in fourth period of sudden-death overtime play. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)
Amid a crowd of players, American ice hockey player Bob Mason (center, on ice without mask), goalkeeper for the Washington Capitals, stops a shot from Randy Wood of the New York Islanders during the Division Semi-Final Game at Capital Centre, Landover, Maryland, April 18 or 19, 1987. The match, called the Easter Epic due to its extreme length, running over onto Easter Sunday, ended with an Islander goal in fourth period of sudden-death overtime play. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)
American ice hockey player Bob Mason (right), goalkeeper for the Washington Capitals, stops a shot during the Division Semi-Final Game, while his teammate Kelly Miller (#10) tangles with Canadian player Patrick Flatley of the New York Islanders at Capital Centre, Landover, Maryland, April 18 or 19, 1987. The match, called the Easter Epic due to its extreme length, running over onto Easter Sunday, ended with an Islander goal in fourth period of sudden-death overtime play. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)
UNIONDALE, NY - APRIL 25: A shot by John Tavares #91 of the New York Islanders gets past Braden Holtby #70 of the Washington Capitals at 6:56 of the first period as Brock Nelson #29 skates in front in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on April 25, 2015 in Uniondale, New York. The Islanders defeated the Capitals 3-1. This could be the final game played in the arena before the team moves to Brooklyn. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
UNIONDALE, NY - APRIL 21: Tim Gleason #6 of the Washington Capitals skates against the New York Islanders in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on April 21, 2015 in Uniondale, New York. The Capitals defeated the Islanders 2-1 in overtime. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
New York Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey (14) fights with Washington Capitals left wing Marcus Johansson (90) seconds after the Islanders beat the Capital in Game 6 of the first-round NHL Stanley Cup hockey playoffs at Nassau Coliseum on Saturday, April 25, 2015, in Uniondale, N.Y. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)
Washington Capitals center Brooks Laich (21) and New York Islanders Scott Mayfield (42) battle for the puck in the third period of Game 6 of a first-round NHL Stanley Cup hockey playoffs at Nassau Coliseum on Saturday, April 25, 2015, in Uniondale, N.Y. The Islanders won 3-1. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)
New York Islanders center Mikhail Grabovski (84) drives the puck around the net past Washington Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen (2) as Capitals goalie Braden Holtby (70) defends in the second period of Game 6 of a first-round NHL Stanley Cup hockey playoffs at Nassau Coliseum on Saturday, April 25, 2015, in Uniondale, N.Y. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)
Washington Capitals right wing Joel Ward (42) controls the puck against New York Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy (2) in the third period of Game 6 of a first-round NHL Stanley Cup hockey playoffs at Nassau Coliseum on Saturday, April 25, 2015, in Uniondale, N.Y. The Islanders won 3-1. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)
New York Islanders right wing Colin McDonald (13) battles with Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green (52) and defenseman Tim Gleason (6) in the second period of Game 6 of a first-round NHL Stanley Cup hockey playoffs at Nassau Coliseum on Saturday, April 25, 2015, in Uniondale, N.Y. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)
Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom (19) looks to pass the puck away from New York Islanders center Mikhail Grabovski (84) as goalie Jaroslav Halak (41) and defenseman Brian Strait (37) defend from behind in the first period of Game 6 of a first-round NHL Stanley Cup hockey playoffs at Nassau Coliseum on Saturday, April 25, 2015, in Uniondale, N.Y. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)
New York Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak (41) stops a shot on goal in front of Washington Capitals right wing Troy Brouwer (20) as Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey (14) defends in the first period of Game 6 of a first-round NHL Stanley Cup hockey playoffs at Nassau Coliseum on Saturday, April 25, 2015, in Uniondale, N.Y. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)
Washington Capitals left wing Marcus Johansson (90) looks to pass the puck away from New York Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy (2) in the third period of Game 6 of a first-round NHL Stanley Cup hockey playoffs at Nassau Coliseum on Saturday, April 25, 2015, in Uniondale, N.Y. The Islanders won 3-1. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)
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"It's been good," Washington forward Joel Ward said. "A traditional series, regardless of who you're playing, is going to be like that. You're going to get some hits, you're going to get some feistiness, you're going to get some whacks. That's what happens when you play the same (team) over and over, you're going to have a little hatred. It's coming down to one game, so we're excited."

The Islanders forced this seventh game with a 3-1 win in Game 6 on Saturday.

Lafontaine's goal was part of a glorious stretch for the Islanders during the 1980s that included four consecutive Stanley Cups earlier that decade. But they've advanced past the first round only once since. That was in 1993, when they again eliminated Washington before edging Pittsburgh in another overtime Game 7 to reach the conference finals.

The Capitals had never played a Game 7 until that 1987 matchup with the Islanders. Now, the franchise is used to it.

Monday will be Washington's eighth Game 7 in the last eight years. Only Boston (nine) has played more in that span, according to STATS.

The Capitals are 3-9 in Game 7s, and only 2-7 at home. That includes that night 28 years ago when Game 7 turned into Game 8 and then Game 9.

A look at Monday's games. All times EDT:

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Lightning at Red Wings, Detroit leads 3-2, Game 6, 7 p.m., CNBC

TIME AND SPACE: Tampa Bay led the league in goals during the regular season, but has been shut out twice in this series. Coach Jon Cooper was asked Sunday if the Red Wings might be getting away with interference. "Well, there's 30 teams in the league and nobody does it more than the Detroit Red Wings, hands down," Cooper said. "The old saying, if you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin' - they do it to a `T.' My message to our guys is you've got to suck it up, you've got to fight through it. We've got to bring a gun to a knife fight. That's how it has to go. So good on them. We've got to be better."

CALM IN NET: Aside from a three-goal flurry at the end of Game 4, Detroit goalie Petr Mrazek has shut out the Lightning over the last three games. The 23-year-old Mrazek also had 44 saves in the series opener. "His first year in the American (Hockey) League, he wins the Calder Cup. You don't win the Calder Cup by accident," Babcock said. "Then every time we called him up, he played good. So to me he's just one of these guys that must be good. ... I don't know enough about the tactical skill and all that stuff, I just know it doesn't go in when he's in there."

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Islanders at Capitals, tied 3-3, Game 7, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN

TRENDS: The Capitals and Islanders would both like to change some things about how this series has gone. New York is 0 for 13 on the power play.

"Maybe Game 7's the game that when you need the big goal on the power play, it comes through for us," coach Jack Capuano said.

The Capitals, meanwhile, have allowed the first goal in all but one of the six games - and four of those New York opening tallies came fairly early in the first period.

"Would I like to score more in the first period? Absolutely. Right from the get-go, we were chasing this series from Game 1," Washington coach Barry Trotz said. "But we put ourselves in position to close it out (Saturday) and we didn't. Now we get another chance to do it. It's Game 7. Don't be scared of it, just go through it."

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