Nathan Walker keeps the Pittsburgh defence at bay during their playoff decider.
Nathan Walker keeps the Pittsburgh defence at bay during their playoff decider.

Aussie helps keep Capitals on NHL playoff track

AT the same time as Ben Simmons and Joe Ingles have been making headlines in the NBA playoffs, another Aussie is creating waves in a possible championship run in the US.

Nathan Walker became the first Australian to play in the National Hockey League (NHL) when his debuted for the Washington Capitals earlier in the season.

Now the 24-year-old has added a new chapter to his breakthrough season, helping eliminate the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions, Pittsburgh Penguins, from the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The left winger didn't waste any time making his presence felt in his first playoff game, providing the assist on the game's opening goal.

Walker showed his speed to win the puck ahead of two Penguins defenders, rounded the net and Alex Chiasson one-timed his perfect pass past goaltender Matt Murray.

Spending more than eight minutes on the ice, Walker went head-to-head with Pittsburgh superstar Sidney Crosby on several shifts.

Nathan Walker has had an interesting first year in the NHL.
Nathan Walker has had an interesting first year in the NHL.

After finishing 1-1 in regular time, Washington claimed a thrilling over-time win to move onto the conference finals, where they'll face Tampa Bay Lightning.

It's been a long road for Walker, born in Wales and raised in Australia, before moving to the Czech Republic as a 14-year-old to pursue his ice hockey dream.

Not content with simply making his debut, Walker scored a goal in the Capitals' 6-1 win over Montreal in October.

However, he would feature in only seven more games before being placed on waivers and claimed by Edmonton.

His time with the Oilers was brief, playing just two games, before returning to Washington.

Walker's solid form in the American Hockey League saw him called up as a squad player for the Caps' playoff run.

While he didn't feature in the Capitals' first-round series win over Columbus, or the first five games against the Penguins, he was given his chance in the pivotal Game 6 and the rest, as they say, is history.



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