The Washington Capitals won the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup for the first time in their 44-year history with a 4-3 win over the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday.
The victory saw the Capitals clinch the best-of-seven championship series 4-1 in Las Vegas and brought an end to what had been a magical inaugural season for the Golden Knights.
Alex Ovechkin, the face of the Capitals franchise who for years bore the brunt of the blame for his team’s shortcomings, became the first Russian-born captain to hoist the Stanley Cup and was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the play-offs.
His message to fans was a simple one.
“Get some beers, get some whatever and start celebrating,” said Ovechkin, who until this year had never been beyond the midway mark of the playoffs. “We are Stanley Cup champions. Washington Capitals baby!”
Danish forward Lars Eller scored the winning goal with just under eight minutes left in regulation when he slammed home a puck sitting at the top of the Vegas crease after it had trickled through goalie Marc-Andre Fleury’s legs.
“It means everything, you couldn’t write the story better. Getting to score the game winner,” said Eller. “If you are going to win on the road I could not imagine a better place to do it than right here.”
Vegas pulled their goalie in favor of an extra attacker with two minutes to play but Washington withstood the late charge.