Washington Capitals end Vegas dream to lift Stanley Cup
Washington Capitals have won the Stanley Cup after beating Vegas Golden Knights 4-3 in game five.
The Capitals won the best-of-seven series 4-1 to earn their first Cup win in their 44-year history.
For Vegas, a fairytale season has come to an end at the final hurdle. In their inaugural season, they were limited to select one player from each team to form their squad, with teams able to protect their best players from being taken.
A team of misfits coupled with clever trading from GM George McPhee to acquire goaltender Mark-Andre Fleury led them to third in the Western Conference in the 82-game regular season.
Their fine form continued into the playoffs, losing just three games out of 15 on the way to the final, but the Capitals, led by Russian superstar Alex Ovechkin, proved too much for them.
For the Capitals, success in the regular season had never been translated into post-season triumph. They won eight of the last 11 Metropolitan Division titles but had only reached the final once in 1998.
Ovechkin was widely regarded as the best player never to win the Cup but 15 goals and 12 assists during the playoffs saw him win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP.
On the night, Jakub Vrana gave the Capitals the lead before Nate Schmidt’s equaliser.
Ovechkin notched a powerplay goal midway through the second period but that was cancelled out by David Perron.
The Capitals captain then took a tripping penalty and Vegas took full advantage, Reilly Smith netting 29 seconds before the end of the period.
Goals from Devante Smith-Pelly and Lars Eller in the final period led Capitals to the Cup.
“We waited so long. We waited 13 years to get the Cup. It’s something special. It’s unbelievable,” Ovechkin told NHL.com.
“It’s not about me. Just the whole team deserved it. I’m just lucky to get this reward.
“It was a whole one team. Stick with the system and it doesn’t matter what happened.”
Vegas had won the opening game of the series but four straight wins led Washington to the series victory.