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Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin is closer than ever to playing for the Stanley Cup Zack Martin Cowboys Jersey , and he’s determined to make the most of the opportunity.


”I’ve never been in this position before,” he said Tuesday, looking ahead to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The winner Wednesday night earns a berth in the Stanley Cup Final opposite the Vegas Golden Knights, who will try for hockey’s biggest prize in their inaugural season.

Ovechkin and the Caps are hoping to shed a label as playoff underachievers, a franchise that dazzles during the regular season only to disappoint at the most important time of the year.

”I’m excited. We’re all excited. … We all want to be in this position and move forward,” said Ovechkin, who is playing in the conference final for the first time during his prolific 13-year career.

”(Wednesday night) is probably biggest game in my life, this team, organization probably. … We still haven’t reached our goal. Tomorrow is going to be a huge step forward.”

Not if the Lightning have their way.

Tampa Bay is playing Game 7 in the conference final for the third time in four years. It beat the New York Rangers on the road to advance to the 2015 Cup Final, but fell short the following year against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

”Experience is always a good thing, but it’s nothing I’m going to sit and lean on Youth Chad Thomas Jersey ,” said Tampa Bay defenseman Anton Stralman, who is 7-1 in Game 7s during his career. ”It’s about doing your job at the highest level you possibly can.”

Washington forced Wednesday’s winner-take-all matchup with a dominating 3-0 victory in Game 6.

In a series where home ice has not been a clear advantage, the Lightning are hoping it provides an edge in Game 7.

Washington won Games 1 and 2 in Tampa, then dropped the next two at home. The Capitals are 7-2 on the road this postseason.

”When you get this deep into a series, everyone knows each other by heart. Now it really comes down to a little bit of will. You have to will yourself for this moment,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said.

”I do like the fact there will be 19,000 people helping us, to will us to victory. I want the guys to enjoy the game. It will be a phenomenal experience. … You just have to remember, don’t let the game get bigger than it really is. Go out there, execute, leave everything out there and we’ll see what happens.”

This will be Washington’s 11th Game 7 since the start of the 2008 playoffs Sam Darnold Jersey , most among all NHL teams in that span. None of them, however, have been for a trip to the Stanley Cup Final.

Capitals coach Barry Trotz said after Monday night’s win in Washington that there’s no other team he has coached that he would rather lead into a seventh game.

”We just keep taking whatever challenge is thrown at us and build off it. This group doesn’t waver. It has a spirit about it, a strong spirit,” he said.

”This team has done a lot of special things this year, it’s grown, it continues to do that,” Trotz added. ”What an opportunity going into Tampa. … We’ll see if we can earn the right to keep playing.”

And while that undoubtedly would be a major breakthrough for Ovechkin, Trotz reiterated the Capitals all have a lot invested.

”The opportunity is not only for Alex, but for everybody,” he said. ”Everybody that gets a chance to be in a Game 7 Tarik Cohen Jersey Youth , which will allow you to go to the finals. It’s exciting, it’s fun.”



All-America defensive tackle Maurice Hurst has been given the OK by doctors to participate fully at Michigan's pro day, according to a person familiar with the situation. The person spoke Thursday night to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the clearance wasn't announced.

Hurst, a potential first-round pick, was held out of drills at the combine three weeks ago after doctors red-flagged a heart condition.

NFL teams will have an opportunity to watch Hurst and other former Wolverines go through drills, run and lift weights on Friday.

The 6-foot-2, 280-pound Hurst had 59 tackles, including 13 for losses and 5 1/2 sacks last season. Hurst, who is from Westwood, Massachusetts, is regarded as one of the top prospects at defensive tackle available in the draft. His father played for the New England Patriots as a cornerback for seven seasons Authentic Logan Woodside Jersey , starting 102 games.

At the combine earlier this month, Hurst told Utah defensive lineman Lowell Lotulelei he had been diagnosed with the same heart condition as Lotulelei's older brother, Star.

"I just found out in the NFLPA meeting that we just had. He just said, 'Star was your brother?' And I said yeah. He's like, 'Man, I just got the same thing that he did,'" Lowell Lotulelei told reporters. "Obviously I didn't go through it, so I don't really know what he's feeling like. But I kind of understand the disappointment just because my brother trained just like he trained and you're expecting one thing and getting another. I feel for him. It sucks. But I think he'll be fine just like my brother was."

Five years ago, Star Lotulelei arrived at the combine as the expected first pick in that year's draft. Things changed dramatically after doctors identified an "abnormal" test on his heart. Lotulelei sought additional opinions and was eventually cleared to exercise. He was taken by Carolina with the 14th overall selection in the 2013 draft. And has missed just four games over five NFL seasons.

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