Capitals end Penguins' hex, win series in overtime

Evgeny Kuznetsov scored on a breakaway 5:27 into overtime, giving the visiting Washington Capitals a 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday and a six-game triumph in the Eastern Conference semifinal series.

The Capitals, who won the series 4-2, advance to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time in 20 years. They will take on the Tampa Bay Lightning, who beat the Boston Bruins in a five-game semifinal series.

Washington has made the Eastern Conference finals just three times in team history, the last being in 1997-98 when it beat the Buffalo Sabres and then lost to the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup Final.

The Capitals also had lost seven consecutive playoff series to Pittsburgh.

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The best photos from the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs
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The best photos from the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs
TAMPA, FL - APRIL 30: Tyler Johnson #9 of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Charlie McAvoy #73 of the Boston Bruins fight for the puck during Game Two of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on April 30, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - APRIL 26: Pierre-Edouard Bellemare #41 of the Vegas Golden Knights attempts to play the puck ahead of Timo Meier #28 and goaltender Martin Jones #31 of the San Jose Sharks in the first period Game One of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena on April 26, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - APRIL 27: Roman Josi #59, Craig Smith #15, and Kyle Turris #8 celebrate after a goal against the Winnipeg Jets during the third period of a 4-1 Jets victory in Game One of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena on April 27, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - APRIL 29: Jacob Trouba #8 of the Winnipeg Jets holds down Viktor Arvidsson #33 of the Nashville Predators during the first period in Game Two of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena on April 29, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 25: Torey Krug #47 of the Boston Bruins, David Backes #42 and Brad Marchand #63 celebrate with Patrice Bergeron #37 after he scored a goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the first period of Game Seven of the Eastern Conference First Round in the 2018 Stanley Cup play-offs at TD Garden on April 25, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 06: Marc-Andre Fleury #29 of the Vegas Golden Knights is congratulated by teammates after he shut out the San Jose Sharks to win Game Six of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center on May 6, 2018 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - MAY 06: Andrei Vasilevskiy #88 of the Tampa Bay Lightning makes a save during Game Five of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Boston Bruins during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 6, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 07: The Washington Capitals celebrate moving on to the Eastern Conference Finals after a 2-1 overtime win behind Kris Letang #58 of the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG Paints Arena on May 7, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
May 2, 2018; Boston, MA, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson (9) celebrates a goal on Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (40) by left wing Ondrej Palat (18) as Boston Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller (86) looks on during the first period of game three of the second round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
May 5, 2018; Nashville, TN, USA; Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele (55) is hit by Nashville Predators left wing Filip Forsberg (9) after sliding for a loose puck during the first period in game five of the second round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
WINNIPEG, MANITOBA - MAY 7: Ben Chiarot #7 of the Winnipeg Jets collides with Kevin Fiala #22 of the Nashville Predators in Game Six of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 7, 2018 at Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Jason Halstead /Getty Images)
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Alex Ovechkin started the game-winning play by pushing the puck forward through the neutral zone and springing Kuznetsov, who then raced in alone and beat Pittsburgh goalie Matt Murray.

Washington had to play without Nicklas Backstrom, one of its top offensive threats, due to an upper-body injury. He played only briefly in the third period of Game 5 but was a scratch in Pittsburgh.

Both teams played great defense throughout the game, making shots hard to come by. The Capitals repeatedly clogged up the neutral zone, and Pittsburgh often was effective defensively when Washington found chances.

Murray (28 saves) and Washington goalie Braden Holtby (21 saves) both made several spectacular stops that helped get the game to overtime.

The Capitals a took a 1-0 lead in the second period thanks to an Alex Chiasson goal on a short-side shot from Murray's left at 2:13. Nathan Walker got the primary assist in his first NHL playoff game on a quick pass from behind the goal.

The Penguins tied it on a Kris Letang goal with 8:08 left in the second period. Letang ripped a low slap shot past Holtby from near the blue line.

Both teams had some good scoring chances in the second period, including the Penguins getting two in the final minute, but the Caps escaped the period still tied at 1-1.

Each team also found a bunch of scoring opportunities in the third period, but no one could convert until Kuznetsov's overtime goal.

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Stanley Cup Champions throughout NHL history
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Stanley Cup Champions throughout NHL history

Montreal Canadiens: 1916, 1924, 1930, 1931, 1944, 1946, 1953, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1973, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1986, 1993

(Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

Toronto Maple Leafs: 1918, 1922, 1932, 1942, 1945, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1951, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1967

(Photo by Pictorial Parade/Getty Images)

New York Rangers: 1928, 1933, 1940, 1994

(Photo by Linda Cataffo/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

Boston Bruins: 1929, 1939, 1941, 1970, 1972, 2011

(Photo via Getty Images)

Chicago Blackhawks: 1934, 1938, 1961, 2010, 2013, 2015

(Photo via Getty Images)

Detroit Red Wings: 1936, 1937, 1943, 1950, 1952, 1954, 1955, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2008

(Photo by Albert Dickson/Sporting News via Getty Images)

Philadelphia Flyers: 1974, 1975

(Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

New York Islanders: 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983

(Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

Edmonton Oilers: 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1990

(Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

Calgary Flames: 1989

(Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

Pittsburgh Penguins: 1991, 1992, 2009, 2016

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

New Jersey Devils: 1995, 2000, 2003

(Photo by B Bennett/Getty Images)

Colorado Avalanche: 1996, 2001

(Photo by Glenn Cratty via Getty Images)

Dallas Stars: 1999

(Photo by Elsa Hasch /Allsport via Getty Images)

Tampa Bay Lightning: 2004

(Photo via REUTERS/Shaun Best GMH)

Los Angeles Kings: 2012, 2014

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Carolina Hurricanes: 2006

(Photo via REUTERS/Mike Blake)

Anaheim Ducks: 2007

(Photo via REUTERS/Danny Moloshok)

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--Field Level Media

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