As the Colorado Avalanche took the ice for warmups ahead of Game 4 against the St. Louis Blues, there was a notable absence: top-6 forward and former Washington Capitals star Andre Burakovsky.
Burakovsky will be a healthy scratch for the Avs, and it comes on a notable day for the 27-year-old. On this day four years ago — May 23, 2018 — Burakovsky etched his name in Capitals history by playing hero in Game 7.
Washington was squaring off against the Tampa Bay Lightning in a do-or-die Game 7. the Capitals had staved off elimination less than 48 hours prior with a 3-0 win on home ice over the Bolts and were now headed back to the Bay with the chance to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.
Burakovsky was on the third line for that game, skating alongside Lars Eller and Brett Connolly. In the second period, he took control for Washington and struck twice just minutes apart.
Just 8:59 minutes into the second, Burakovsky was aggressive on the forecheck and forced a turnover from Dan Girardi. He picked up the puck and sniped it past Andrei Vasilevskiy to make it 2-0 for the Capitals. Minutes later, he would go in on a breakaway and score his second of the game to make it 3-0.
— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) May 24, 2018
The two goals were the Swede’s first tallies of the 2018 postseason and came after he’d been a healthy scratch for Game 5. He became the second player in franchise history to score twice in a Game 7. The first was Dale Hunter.
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Alex Ovechkin had also stuck just 1:02 into the game, and Nicklas Backstrom sealed the deal with an empty-netter late in the third for the 4-0 victory. The win made Washington the Eastern Conference Champion and sent the Capitals to their first Stanley Cup Final since 1998.
Washington went on to face the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2018 Stanley Cup Final and won the series, 4-1, to capture the franchise’s first-ever championship title.
Here were the line combinations for that game:
Alex Ovechkin-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana-Nicklas Backstrom-T.J. Oshie
Andre Burakovsky-Lars Eller-Brett Connolly
Chandler Stephenson-Jay Beagle-Devante Smith-Pelly
Michal Kempny-John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov-Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik-Christian Djoos
On June 12, 2019, the Capitals traded Burakovsky to Colorado for draft picks. Over five years and 328 games in D.C., Burakovsky dished 62 goals and 83 assists. In three years with the Avs, No. 95 has 61 goals and 89 assists through 191 games.
The decision to scratch Burakovsky came after a tough showing for him so far in the postseason. After a 61-point campaign in the regular season, he has just one goal and two assists through seven games so far in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Avs lead the second-round series against the Blues, 2-1.