Caps go to Finals
The Washington Capitals will go to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in 24-year franchise history.
Joe Juneau scored his sixth goal in playoffs at 6:24 into overtime to give the Caps a 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres in Game 6 of the conference finals. Washington won the series, 4-2.
"The puck was there," Juneau said. "You want to go to the net and hope the puck comes out, and it finally came out."
Buffalo started the game strong and only Washington goalie Olaf Kolzig's heroics kept the first period scoreless.
Mike Peca started scoring for Buffalo at 13:04 of the second period only to have the Capitals' Esa Tikkanen to tie the score 22 seconds later. It was Tikkanen's third goal in the playoffs but first in 15 games.
Paul Kruse took Buffalo ahead in the third period, but Peter Bondra scored his sixth goal in the playoffs and the game was headed to overtime.
Washington's victory puts to rest all the talk of the team squandering a 3-1 lead in a series for the fourth. After Buffalo won Game 5 in the way they did, many were suspecting the Caps to blow it again.
"It's one of those things you have to fight through," Capitals Dale Hunter said of the mishaps of the past. "It's been a long time coming," added Hunter, going to his first finals in 18-year career. "Having a chance to win the Stanley Cup is an unbelievable feeling."
Buffalo had its chances in overtime only to be denied by Olie the Goalie. Kolzig made a toe save on Jason Woolley early in OT and stopped Vaclav Varada on a breakaway.
"Any time you beat the best goaltender in the world, it's satisfying," Kolzig said of Dominik Hasek.
Copyright©1998 The HockeyNut