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Washington Capitals Win Stanley Cup

Dan Studer, Staff Writer

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The captain of the Washington Capitals, Alexander Ovechkin, has 607 goals, 1122 points, and 229 powerplay goals in his 13 season career. Ovechkin is easily considered one of the greatest players in the league today along with others such as Penguins Captain Sidney Crosby, however, he has never won a Stanley Cup. That all changed in Game five of the 2018 Stanley Cup Final where the Caps won their first Stanley Cup in franchise history in Las Vegas against the Vegas Golden Knights. After losing Game one 6-4, the Capitals took their loss and used it as some serious motivation as they won the next four straight games. This time they were on the winning side of 4 straight games as compared to 1998 when the Capitals were swept by the Detroit Red Wings.

After a scoreless first period, Jakub Vrana would be the first goal-scorer of the game with a wrist shot on a breakaway that went just past Marc-Andre Fleury to give the Washington Capitals the lead. Later, Nate Schmidt would score his first goal of the playoffs with a shot from just in front of the blue line that was deflected into the back of the net off of the Capitals’ defenseman, Matt Niskanen. After drawing a tripping penalty, Alexander Ovechkin fired in a one-timer from the right side of Fleury on the power play giving Washington a 2-1 lead. With a little over seven minutes remaining in the second period, Knights defenseman Colin Miller took a shot from the blue line that deflected off of the stick of Tomas Tatar. It seemed as if that would be his goal at first, but it would wind up being credited to David Perron after the puck hit him as he was being pushed into the net by Christian Djoos of the Capitals. With less than one minute left in the high scoring second period, the Knights decided to break their 2-2 tie with a beautiful play.

Shea Theodore took a shot from the point that was saved by goalie Braden Holtby. Alex Tuch would grab the offensive rebound luring Holtby out of the net, and giving Reilly Smith an open net goal, Tuch giving himself an assist with a beautiful cross-crease pass. The second period ended with the Golden Knights up 3-2 and wanting more.

All was looking well for the Golden Knights as they had the lead halfway through the third. That was before Washington’s Devante Smith-Pelly scored a sweeping goal off the rebound of the shot from his teammate Brooks Orpik. Three minutes after that, the Knights gave up an offensive turnover behind their own net. This allowed Andre Burakovsky to make a pass to Brett Connolly who ripped a shot on net that was saved by Fleury. Unfortunately for the Knights, the puck trickled out behind Fleury, but it was too late for anybody to do anything as Lars Eller tucked it into the back of the net.

It can be said that this series between the Golden Knights and the Capitals was not about who could score more goals. Rather which goaltender would save more shots. Marc-Andre Fleury was absolutely phenomenal in the playoffs. He started all 20 games for the Knights, and in those 20 games he had a record of 13-7, a .927 save %, 2.24 GAA, 4 shutouts, and allowed 47 of 631. Braden Holtby of the Capitals was also a stellar goalie in the playoffs. He started 22 games for Washington, had a record of 16-7, a .922 save %, 2.16 GAA, 2 shutouts, and allowed 50 of 639 shots.

If there is one thing that the Vegas Golden Knights should take away from this is that they almost have nothing to be upset about. They were a team that is the definition of the term “underdog.” Nobody had expected them to do as well as they did, but they shocked the hockey world. They won the Pacific division finishing with 109 points, the most by any team in there inaugural season. In the first round of the playoffs they swept the Los Angeles Kings, followed by eliminating the Sharks in six games, and the Jets in five.

While winning the Stanley Cup is a great thing, it can also be emotional for some people. One of those people is one of the right wingers for the Capitals, T.J. Oshie. In a postgame interview with Jeremy Roenick of NBCSN, Roenick asked Oshie to talk about his family to which Oshie gave an answer while fighting back tears. Oshie’s father has been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, to which Oshie says, “My dad, he doesn’t remember a lot of stuff these days. He remembers enough. But I tell you what. He’s here tonight, I don’t know where he’s at, but this one will stick with him forever, you can guarantee that.”

The Conn Smythe Trophy is the award given to the MVP, most valuable player, of the playoffs, and the winner this year was Alexander Ovechkin. Ovechkin finished the playoffs with a record-setting 15 goals (the most by a single player in Capitals playoff history), 12 assists, and 6 power play goal to secure him the Conn Smythe. It took Ovechkin 13 seasons to win a cup, and he has finally done so. With this being his first cup, Ovechkin is also the first Russian-born captain to win the Stanley Cup. Other players on the Capitals are firsts in their nationalities as well; Nathan Walker being the first Australian-born, and Lars Eller becoming the first player from Denmark to win the Stanley Cup.

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Washington Capitals Win Stanley Cup