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ARLINGTON Mike Smith Jersey , Va. (AP) The smiling side of a handshake line at the end of the second round was a brand-new experience for Alex Ovechkin and Barry Trotz.Ovechkin received a message of good luck and a pat on the chest from Sidney Crosby, while Trotz got to enjoy a happy moment with longtime coaching friend Jacques Martin. Ovechkin acknowledged he’d been in that position a lot of times – though never as the one moving on to the third round.Until now.The Washington Capitals reaching the Eastern Conference final for the first time since 1998 is perhaps most special to the superstar captain and his coach who had never made it out of the second round before. No coach in NHL history had been behind the bench for more games than Trotz and no active player had been in as many playoff games as Ovechkin without reaching the conference finals.”There is a kinship there, there’s no question,” Trotz said. ”I’ve been at this for a while and it’s so hard to move forward sometimes. It’s always thrown in your face everywhere your turn. I know it’s thrown in Ovi’s face everywhere he turns, and he’s a great player in this league. … I knew the frustration because you’re so close and you just can’t get it, and you just got to stay with it.”After 51 playoff games together, Ovechkin and Trotz will take part in their first East final starting Friday night in Tampa Bay against the Lightning. Now that they’ve gotten over a hump that defined their respective careers, Ovechkin, Trotz and the Capitals are in unfamiliar territory.”It’s something new for us and cool,” Ovechkin said Wednesday, less than 48 hours after Washington eliminated the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins. ”Right now it’s just satisfaction we beat the Stanley Cup champions finally and we move forward and now we’re going to play against a very good team Sean Monahan Jersey , against very good goaltending and solid players over there.”The Atlantic Division-champion Lightning present a formidable challenge, but the Capitals had to overcome something altogether different after losing in the first or second round in all nine playoff appearances that have come during the Ovechkin era dating to 2008. Beating the rival Penguins in overtime in a Game 6 on the road made the breakthrough even more emotional.”We should be proud of that,” defenseman Matt Niskanen said. ”It’s a big achievement. But I think we’ve got to be greedy. We’ve got to want more because this is a heck of a run. I don’t know if there is a group out there that knows how hard it is to get to this point.”The Capitals are at this point with Ovechkin on top of his game with eight goals and seven assists, his best playoff output since 2009. And they’re here in large part because of Trotz, a well-respected, 19-year NHL coach who does not have a contract for next season.”I had a summer which was very enlightening to me, and I just look at everything way differently than I ever have,” Trotz said. ”I just recognized that I can only control what I can control, and the other stuff I can’t.”Trotz can’t control upper-body injuries to Nicklas Backstrom and Andre Burakovsky or a three-game suspension handed out to winger Tom Wilson, only the decisions he makes in replacing them. So far, Trotz has pushed the right buttons TJ Brodie Jersey , like putting Braden Holtby back in net in Game 2 of the first round and promoting Jakub Vrana to the top line in Game 5 against Pittsburgh.His players know Trotz is in control as he and the Capitals advance further into the spring than they have in 20 years.”He wants to win a Cup,” forward Chandler Stephenson said. ”He doesn’t want to make it past the second round. It’s obviously a little accomplishment, a little confidence-boost. But we’re not done yet. We’re only halfway.”—AP Sports Writer Howard Fendrich contributed.— PITTSBURGH (AP) Sean Couturier had a goal and two assists, Brian Elliott stopped 34 shots and the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-1 on Friday night to even the first-round Eastern Conference series at a game apiece.Shane Gostisbehere, Travis Konecny, Andrew McDonald and Nolan Patrick also scored for the Flyers. They bounced back from an embarrassing 7-0 loss in the opener to beat the Penguins for the first time this season. Game 3 is Sunday in Philadelphia.Patric Hornqvist scored Pittsburgh’s lone goal with just over 5 minutes left to avoid the shutout, but the Penguins looked ordinary for long stretches after looking unstoppable in Game 1.Matt Murray’s shutout streak dating to the 2017 Stanley Cup finals ended at 226:49 when Gostisbehere scored on the power play late in the first period. Murray finished with 16 saves to lose for just the third time in 17 home playoff starts in his career.GOLDEN KNIGHTS 2, KINGS 1, 2 OTLAS VEGAS (AP) – Erik Haula’s goal in double overtime gave Vegas a 2-0 lead against Los Angeles in their first-round playoff series.With 4:37 left on the clock in the second overtime, Haula skated in on his own to beat goalie Jonathan Quick and send a towel-waving crowd of 18,588 into a frenzy.Game 3 in the best-of-seven Western Conference series is Sunday night in Los Angeles.Alex Tuch scored for expansion Vegas in regulation Womens Travis Hamonic Jersey , and Paul LaDue had the Kings‘ goal.Marc-Andre Fleury made 29 saves for the Golden Knights. Quick stopped 54 shots for the Kings.Los Angeles played without star defenseman Drew Doughty, who served a one-game suspension for an illegal hit to the head on Vegas forward William Carrier during the Golden Knights’ 1-0 series-opening victory Wednesday.JETS 4, WILD 1WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) – Paul Stastny, Andrew Copp and Patrik Laine scored in the third period and Winnipeg beat Minnesota to take a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference series.Defenseman Tyler Myers had a goal in the second period and also had an assist. Rookie Jack Roslovic, replacing injured Mathieu Perreault, had two assists in the game that ended with a series of fights.Zach Parise had his second goal of the series when he deflected Mikko Koivu’s shot past Connor Hellebuyck to end the goalie’s shutout bid with 45 seconds left. The goal came on the power play after Jets forward Brandon Tanev was called for hooking with 59 seconds left.Hellebuyck made 16 saves. Devan Dubnyk stopped 39 shots for Minnesota.Winnipeg won 3-2 on Wednesday night. Game 3 is Sunday at Minnesota.—

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