Four years ago today, the Washington Capitals were in Las Vegas and on the verge of their first-ever Stanley Cup title with a 3-1 series lead over the Golden Knights going into Game 5.
Jakub Vrana and Alex Ovechkin would strike for Washington in the second period, but Vegas responded with three second-period goals to take a 3-2 advantage going into the third period. Then, Devante Smith-Pelly tied the game halfway through that final frame, and then, with 7:47 minutes remaining in regulation, Lars Eller changed everything.
Eller found a loose puck behind Marc-Andre Fleury and buried it to put the Capitals up 4-3. They would ultimately hang on and clinch the championship, ending a 44-year drought.
Alex Ovechkin would win the Conn Smythe after leading the charge with 15 goals in the playoffs, and the captain also got to hoist the Cup after a long 13-year wait. He then shared the moment with Nicklas Backstrom. Then, of course, followed a summer filled with an epic parade on the National Mall, kegstands, fountains and more.
MONTH OF OVI 🎱
8/5 – Ovechkin kissed the Cup five times as he hoisted it for the first time in franchise history 💋
— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) August 5, 2019
Now, in 2022, the first member of those Stanley Cup-winning Capitals will return to this year’s final, as Andre Burakovsky will get his chance at a second ring following the Colorado Avalanche’s sweep of the Edmonton Oilers in the Western Conference Final. This is Colorado’s first SCF appearance since 2001, the year they last one.
Today, we relive that victory and also take a look at other news and notes from D.C. and across the NHL:
- The Capitals likely have a busy offseason ahead of them, but a lot of internal factors may determine the path they take this summer. Here’s more on the team and its to-do list. (WHN)
- Speaking of that 2018 win, NBC Sports Washington’s Joe Beninati and Craig Laughlin relive that victory and historic 2018 run. (NBCSW)
- Meanwhile, a few familiar faces earned consideration for the Lady Byng, including Ovechkin, John Carlson and Marcus Johansson (WHN).
- With the summer upon us, it’s report card time. First up for us: Nicklas Backstrom. (WHN)
- And, as free agency approaches, there’s also the question regarding Washington’s netminders. Who will the team target for the No. 1 job in net? (Japers’ Rink)
- Burakovsky and the Avalanche are Stanley Cup Final bound. Here’s a closer look at the win and the Western Conference title (yes, they touched the Campbell Bowl) and the road ahead following a sweep of the Oilers. (CHN)
- Is the Stanley Cup window still open for the Pittsburgh Penguins? Our friends at Pittsburgh Hockey Now take a look at if these Penguins can still win a title. (PHN)
- Meanwhile, Gerard Gallant and the New York Rangers are making quite a run to return to the Cup Final, and this team’s pursuit appears very similar to a Vegas-based club’s run back in 2018 against… Washington. (PHT)
- Speaking of coaches, the Boston Bruins are moving on from Bruce Cassidy. Here’s more on why and what the team is looking for in a new bench boss. (BHN)
- Taking a look at another playoff rival, here’s a look back at this year’s Florida Panthers. (FHN)
Sammi’s Top Shelf Takes
- John Carlson had said that he would be rooting for Colorado because of his former teammate in Burakovsky. Just goes to show how much he meant to the Capitals locker room.
- Also shoutout to Katie Gaus, former Panthers rinkside reporter who will now work with the Avs on Altitude TV. Enjoy the Cup Final.
Pumped to share a little more about myself with the Avs Faithful ! Can’t wait to meet everyone ✨ https://t.co/5SaQunkm8b
— Katie Gaus (@katie_gaus) June 7, 2022
- Going back to 2018, I was just a junior and had just turned 21 when the Cup Final started. Covering that, going to those games and events and seeing my childhood team make history was something I’ll never take for granted.
- And of course, happy birthday to the Washington Post’s Sam Pell. Always great work covering the Capitals.