For the first time in 20 years, the Washington Capitals will go to the Conference Final with a 2-1 win in overtime from an Evgeny Kuznetsov winner to defeat the Penguins in six games. Kuznetsov got a semi-breakaway feed from Alex Ovechkin and went five-hole on Matt Murray for the game-winner. Alex Chiasson had the other goal on an assist from Aussie Nathan Walker. The Caps will now take on the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final.
With that eighth win– a famous number eight from the Caps yesteryear.
While Alex Ovechkin will always be synonymous with #8, there’s one other guy who is notable for that number, but not for the right reasons. Despite that, he’s a Hall of Famer, a four-time Cup winner, and had quite the resume, though it’s at time not enough for the Caps’ faithful. It’s Larry Murphy.
Seriously, though….it’s a number so nice, he wore it twice and that was Dmitri Khristich. For a guy who had two tours of duty with the Capitals, he was able to go ahead and get the #8 twice in his career. While he did wear #29 when he came up to the NHL in 1990-91, #8 is the one that people remember him most for.
While he played 40 games in 1990-91, Khristich came to form in his first full season in 1991-92, where the Ukranian forward potted 36 goals and 73 points, which put him second and fourth respectively in team scoring, while also providing a little bit of defensive touch to his game and create a little (very little) Selke buzz for best defensive forward. Despite Khristich was a better than point-per-game player (66 points in 64 games) in his second season. While leading the team in goals in 1993-94 with 29 goals on the season. However, Khristich only had nine goals in 42 playoff games with the Caps in his first tenure in DC.
After some time in LA, Boston, and Toronto, Khristich came back to the Caps in the middle of the 2000-01 season, while contributing solidly in his 43 games with 10 goals and 29 points when coming back, while his last season with the Caps and in the NHL was a dud with nine goals in 61 games before going to the Russian Superleague.
Though he did have some declining numbers, Khristich was one of the more popular #8s in the Caps history and is very well remembered for his tenured. Not only that, but he was sort of a mentor to some of the young European players– most notably with a young Peter Bondra and his family when Bondra was coming over. Khristich and his family helped the transition to a new life in hockey and make Bondra comfortable and we know what Bondra did for the Caps after that.