Caps set to face big Game 7 test

ARLINGTON, Va. — Justin Williams doesn’t lose in Game 7. Except that one time.

The player who earned the “Mr. Game 7” moniker for going 7-0 with seven goals and seven assists in winner-take-all situations lost in a Game 7 for the first time with the Washington Capitals in 2017. Now he’s back as captain of the Carolina Hurricanes, looking to hand his most recent team another crushing playoff loss in a catalog full of them.

“You learn a lot about people when it’s win or go home, when it’s us or them,” Williams said. “Anything can happen next game, and we’re happy to be playing it.”

The Capitals blew a chance to eliminate the Hurricanes on the road Monday and will now host Game 7 at home tonight. After Washington exorcised its demons against Pittsburgh, won Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final at Tampa Bay and lifted the Stanley Cup last year, there isn’t the same doom and gloom hovering over a franchise that for years fell short of expectations.

“In those crucial moments, in those important moments, it seems they always find a way to get it done,” said former Capitals goaltender Philipp Grubauer, who’s now in the second round with Colorado. “I think they’ll probably get it done.”

Coach Todd Reirden, who was Barry Trotz’s top assistant the past four seasons, believes this is another chance for his team to make a statement that the “Oh, no” fears of the past are gone.

“When you don’t have success for a number of continued years back-to-back-to-back of not having that success, then it can’t help but creep into your mind,” Reirden said Tuesday. “I’m hoping the opposite will happen now.”

During the Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom era that saw the team’s first playoff appearance in 2008, the Capitals are 4-7 in Game 7; that includes a 3-4 record with goaltender Braden Holtby in net dating to 2012 and 2-2 since the bulk of this core group started playing together in 2015.

The Capitals could have 17 players on the ice Wednesday who were part of a 4-0 Game 7 victory at the Lightning last year. That doesn’t hurt.

Bruins win Game 7

BOSTON — Another Game 7 matchup between Boston and Toronto, another victory for the Bruins.

Joakim Nordstrom and Sean Kuraly each had a goal and assist, Tuukka Rask stopped 32 shots and the Bruins beat the Maple Leafs 5-1 in Game 7 on Tuesday night to wrap up their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series.

Marcus Johansson added his first goal of the postseason for Boston and Charlie Coyle scored on an empty netter late in the third. Patrice Bergeron also had a late goal.

It is the Bruins’ second straight Game 7 win over the Maple Leafs and third in three playoff matchups between the teams. Boston previously knocked Toronto out of the postseason with Game 7 victories in 2018 and 2013. The Maple Leafs have now lost six straight road Game 7s.

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