One team exorcized its demon. The other looks like it never will.
As a result, the Stanley Cup conference finals are set and the Sabres should get their man.
Anaheim finally won a Game Seven, eliminating Edmonton with a 2-1 comeback victory Wednesday night. The Ducks hosted a Game Seven for the fifth straight year and snapped a four-year skid. They’ll play Nashville in the Western Conference final.
Pittsburgh continued to own Washington, earning a 2-0 shutout in the nation's capital and will meet Ottawa in the Eastern Conference final. The Penguins improved to 9-1 in playoff series against the Capitals, and they’ve won seven straight dating to 1995.
The win opens the door for Buffalo to hire Penguins Associate General Manager Jason Botterill as its GM.
Pittsburgh is 4-0 in Game Sevens against Washington, including 3-0 on the Capitals’ home ice.
“These guys are at their best when the stakes are high,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan told reporters in Verizon Center. “That might be the best game that we've played in the playoffs to this point, and I thought that was the closest thing to the Penguins identity that we've seen in the playoffs so far."
Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury became the 10th netminder in NHL history to pick up a Game Seven shutout on the road. He made 29 saves, and he relished a big one against Alex Ovechkin. He got the shaft of his stick on the one-timer by the Capitals captain ...
Fleury robbed Ovechkin with the shaft of his stick, magnificent save (with a hint of luck) pic.twitter.com/hJfvnlibuC
— Shayne Pasquino (@shaynepasquino) May 11, 2017
... then smiled and stroked it.
Marc-Andre Fleury shows some love to the shaft of his stick pic.twitter.com/sWKlTLWS2D
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) May 11, 2017
“I was talking to stick, maybe,” Fleury told reporters with a smile. “I said, ‘Good job, and thank you.’”
There was no smile for the Capitals as Ovechkin again failed to get past the second round. The 31-year-old future Hall of Famer never has. Coach Barry Trotz was asked why.
“Emotionally right now, I don't want to answer that question,” Trotz told reporters. “We win and lose as a team. That's probably my best answer right now. Emotionally, I don't think I want to answer that question on Ovi.”
Meanwhile, the Oilers scored early into Game Seven in Anaheim to put fans back in their restless place. But the Ducks answered in the second and got the winner early in the third. It will be their second appearance in the conference final in three years.
It will be eight straight years for a California-based team as San Jose and Los Angeles have also found success.
“We deserved to win that because we kept coming and kept playing," Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano told reporters in Honda Center. “It just feels awesome."
The Oilers had a 2-0 series lead.
"The guys should not hang their heads,” forward Patrick Maroon said. “What we did this year was truly amazing. The future is bright for this team. We're a really good hockey team that can do some damage in the near future.”
Here is the schedule for the conference finals.
Pittsburgh Penguins versus Ottawa Senators
Saturday, 7 p.m.: Senators @ Penguins, NBC, CBC
Monday, 8 p.m.: Senators @ Penguins, NBCSN, CBC
Wednesday, 8 p.m.: Penguins @ Senators, NBCSN, CBC
May 19, 8 p.m.: Penguins @ Senators, NBCSN, CBC
*May 21, 3 p.m.: Senators @ Penguin, NBC, CBC
*May 23, 8 p.m.: Penguins @ Senators, NBCSN, CBC
*May 25, 8 p.m.: Senators @ Penguins, NBCSN, CBC
Anaheim Ducks versus Nashville Predators
Friday, 9 p.m.: Predators @ Ducks, NBCSN, CBC
Sunday, 7:30 p.m.: Predators @ Ducks, NBCSN
Tuesday, 8 p.m.: Ducks @ Predators, NBCSN, CBC
Next Thursday, 8 p.m.: Ducks @ Predators, NBCSN, CBC
*May 20, 7:15 p.m.: Predators @ Ducks, NBC, CBC
*May 22, 8 p.m.: Ducks @ Predators, NBCSN, CBC
*May 24, 9 p.m.: Predators @ Ducks, NBCSN, CBC