Led by another MVP-caliber season from Alex Ovechkin and goalie Braden Holtby’s NHL record-tying 48 wins, the Caps won the Presidents’ Trophy with a franchise mark of 120 points. Expected to finally go all the way, they lost to hated Pittsburgh in the second round, falling behind 3-0 in Game 6 only to battle back and fall 4-3 in OT on a crushing goal by Nick Bonino.
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New coach Barry Trotz revived a sense of promise, Alex Ovechkin won the third of his four straight goal-scoring titles, and the Caps finished second in the Metro Division with 101 points. Returning to the playoffs after a one-year absence, they battled past the Islanders in seven games before blowing a 3-1 series lead against the Rangers. Their final three losses were each by one goal with two in overtime, including Game 7.
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After a third straight 100-point season and first-place finish in the Southeast Division, coach Bruce Boudreau failed yet again to get the Capitals over the second-round hump. With Michal Neuvirth in net, they blew past the Rangers in five only to get zapped by the Lightning, who were backstopped by Dwayne Roloson, in four. Ovechkin managed two goals and two assists in the series.
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The best season to date in franchise history (54-15-3; 121 points; first Presidents’ Trophy) included leading the league with 318 goals but ended in the first round. After taking a 3-1 series lead against Montreal, the Caps choked, losing Games 5 and 7 at home by identical scores of 2-1 as Habs goalie Jaro Halak surrendered only three goals in the final three games.
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In his first full season behind the Caps’ bench, Bruce Boudreau guided them to 50 wins for the first time since 1985-86 and their first 100-point season since ‘99-2000. With Hart Trophy-winner Alex Ovechkin leading the charge, Washington battled past the Rangers in seven, setting up a showdown with Sidney Crosby’s Penguins. Five of the seven games were decided by one goal, but the Caps were waxed 6-2 in the finale, establishing a frustrating pattern for the Ovechkin years.
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Returning to the playoffs after a one-year absence, coach Ron Wilson’s squad finished 44-24-24, good for 102 points. Against Jaromir Jagr’s Penguins in the first round, Adam Oates, Peter Bondra and the rest of the Caps were blanked by the immortal Ron Tugnutt in a 7-0 blowout to open the series and never recovered. Their 3-2 win in Game 4 avoided the sweep.
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Finishing third in the Atlantic Division, the Caps, led by Peter Bondra, Adam Oates, Sergei Gonchar and goalie Olaf Kolzig, made their first and so far only run to the Stanley Cup Final by beating Boston in six, Ottawa in five, and Buffalo in six. In the final, coach Ron Wilson’s lads were swept by Detroit, their first three losses by one goal, including Game 2 in OT.
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After finishing atop their division for the first time in their history, at 41-29-10, coach Bryan Murray’s team took a 2-1 series lead in the first round before falling to the Flyers in six. The following season, after a mediocre 78-point campaign, Scott Stevens, Rod Langway and company made a surprise run to the conference finals, getting past the Devils in six and Rangers in five before the Bruins broke out the broom.
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Still boasting the likes of future Hall of Famers Rod Langway, Mike Gartner, Scott Stevens and Larry Murphy, the Caps met their division nemesis, the Islanders, for the fifth straight year. Washington blew a 3-1 opening series lead and was vanquished by Pat LaFontaine’s goal in the now legendary 4-0T Game 7 “Easter Epic.”
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Blessed by a stout defense led by Rod Langway, Larry Murphy, and Scott Stevens, the Caps enjoyed their best season yet (a then-franchise record 50 wins; 107 points). The playoffs began with a 3-0 sweep of the hated Isles but ended in the second round with a six-game loss to the Rangers. A true heartbreaker, Washington took a 2-1 series lead before losing three straight.
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A second consecutive 100-point season under coach Bryan Murray ended in the first round against the Islanders. After the first two games in Washington, the Capitals had New York on the ropes, leading the best-of-five two games to none. But when the series returned to Long Island, New York won Games 3 and 5 by scores of 2-1 sandwiched around a 6-4 win in Game 4.
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Eight years after finishing their inaugural season with a woeful 8-67-5 mark, the Capitals, featuring mainstays Mike Gartner, Rod Langway and Larry Murphy, became a 100-point team for the first time. Making their second playoff appearance (they’d fallen to the eventual Stanley Cup-champion Islanders in the first round of 1983), they handily swept the Flyers 3-0 in their opening series but again ran into their dynastic nemesis in the division semis, going down in five.
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