Cap­i­tals edge Knights for first Stan­ley Cup

Washington comes back to win NHL cham­pi­onship se­ries in five games

Global Times - Weekend - - SPORTS -

The Washington Cap­i­tals ended 44 years of play­off frus­tra­tion Thurs­day, beat­ing the ex­pan­sion Ve­gas Golden Knights 4-3 to claim their first Stan­ley Cup ti­tle in fran­chise his­tory.

Lars Eller and De­vante Smith-Pelly scored third pe­riod goals just 2:31 apart as the Cap­i­tals came from be­hind to win the Na­tional Hockey League (NHL) cham­pi­onship se­ries in five games – and end the fairy-tale run of the Golden Knights’ first sea­son.

“It means ev­ery­thing. I think this mo­ment, we wait­ing a long, long time,” said for­ward Alex Ovechkin. “This or­ga­niza- tion wanted it so bad.

“It’s nice to be part of it. It’s nice to be in this or­ga­ni­za­tion all 13, 14 years, what­ever. It just was a joy. Was tough time, but we fight through it and we get re­sults.”

The ti­tle ends decades of heart­break not only for the NHL team but for the city of Washington, as it had been over 26 years since a ma­jor sports team from the US cap­i­tal had won a cham­pi­onship.

“You can never imag­ine how this feels. This is one of the best feel­ings ever,” said Amer­i­can for­ward T.J. Oshie.

It also marks the first Stan­ley Cup ti­tle for Rus­sian star Ovechkin, who scored his 15th play­off goal in the sec­ond pe­riod and was named Most Valu­able Player of the 2018 play­offs.

Ovechkin was the league­leader in goals dur­ing the play­offs and fin­ished sec­ond over­all in scor­ing with 27 points.

The Cap­i­tals won their 10th game on the road in the post­sea­son to equal the league record which had been set four times pre­vi­ously, most re­cently by the 2012 Los An­ge­les Kings.

Washington, who en­tered the league as an ex­pan­sion team in 1974, ended the mirac­u­lous sea­son of the Knights, who are just the third NHL team in league his­tory to reach the fi­nals in their in­au­gu­ral campaign.

They join the Toronto Are­nas and St. Louis Blues, but the Golden Knights had a much more dif­fi­cult road to get there.

The Are­nas did it in the league’s first ever post­sea­son and Blues were part of a di­vi­sion com­prised of all ex­pan­sion teams in the late 1960s.

“They’re dis­ap­pointed and de­jected,” said Ve­gas coach Ger­ard Gal­lant.

“We had an out­stand­ing year, but it doesn’t feel like it right now. Ob­vi­ously, we’ll get to that in a few days’ time.”

Czech for­ward Jakub Vrana had the other Cap­i­tals goal as he opened the scor­ing in a five­goal sec­ond pe­riod af­ter the teams failed to pro­duce a goal in a tight-check­ing first pe­riod.

Den­mark’s Eller scored the win­ning goal with 7:37 left in the third pe­riod in front of a crowd of 18,500 at Las Ve­gas’ T-Mo­bile Arena.

“It is amaz­ing,” said Cap­i­tals goal­tender Braden Holtby, who fin­ished with 28 saves. “We have a lot of dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties on this team but we meshed like crazy.”

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