Do the Washington Capitals have a killer instinct?

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UNIONDALE, NY - APRIL 19: Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals skates against the New York Islanders in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on April 19, 2015 in Uniondale, New York. The Islanders defeated the Capitals 2-1 in overtime. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
UNIONDALE, NY - APRIL 19: Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals skates against the New York Islanders in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on April 19, 2015 in Uniondale, New York. The Islanders defeated the Capitals 2-1 in overtime. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Since the first year Alex Ovechkin made the playoffs with the Washington Capitals, they’ve played in nine playoff series. Seven of them have gone seven games; the only two that didn’t came in the same 2010-11 season, a five-game win over the Rangers and a sweep at the hands of the Lightning. 

So, chin up, New York Islanders fans: These things tend to go the distance for the Capitals, even if they’re up 3-2 in the series.

But this isn’t a Capitals team about tendencies, or the past. This is a Capitals team desperately trying to prove that this postseason, and this mix of players, is different.

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Do they actually have a killer instinct this time?

Said Troy Brouwer to CSN Washington:

“We have to find a way where we can close teams out,” Brouwer said. “I like the pedigree of our team. I like how we’re embracing the situation right now. We know tomorrow night’s going to be our toughest game in a long time because that elimination game is extremely hard to win because the other team is extremely desperate. We have that same attitude as well, because we know what it’s like to exit the playoffs early and we don’t want to be doing that again this year.”

Barry Trotz said he wants the Capitals to use the past to thrive in the present:

“I think you have to go through a lot of stuff and you do remember. You don’t get any experience until you go through it. Sometimes having no experience is a good thing because you’re naive to the magnitude of stuff. But I think when you put everything in perspective and you know what’s coming, the guys that have gone through it.”

This group has been through a lot, even in this series, when they looked zombified in Game 1. But Tom Wilson’s hit on Lubomir Visnosvky changed the trajectory of the series. Let’s see if the Islanders can change it again in Game 6, and maybe add a few doubts to the minds of Caps players thinking it’s different this time.

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