The Great 8: Alex Ovechkin crowned playoff MVP

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Ovechkin scored a goal in the second period in Thursday night's Game 5, giving the Capitals a 2-1 lead. The Stanley Cup. The Caps have been trying to get their hands on it since 1974 and Ovechkin had failed to touch it since coming from Russian Federation in 2005. And the fans finally have a hero.

So did the Capitals' agonizing wait for their first championship since the franchise's debut in 1974. "We won, and it doesn't matter how we played or what happened before". Even if Las Vegas doesn't rally to win three straight, this is surely not the last we'll hear from this franchise.

The Washington Capitals ended 43 years of frustration and playoff heartbreak Thursday night when they defeated Vegas in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Gary Bettman hands Alex Ovechkin the Stanley Cup - the first in the Washington Capitals' history. "That's all that matters". Look at the smiles on my teammates. You'll probably never find another guy like him. "I was at the right place at the right moment". "I'm so happy. It's unbelievable". "And we finally did it".

With 15 goals, 12 assists and 27 points, Ovechkin also won the Conn Smythe. Ovechkin shouted "Yeah! Yeah!"

Capitals coach Barry Trotz is on the brink of winning his first Cup, in his 19th season as a head coach, his fourth in Washington.

The Capitals had not advanced beyond the second round of the playoffs since the 1998 Cup final when they were swept by Detroit, but defeated Columbus, arch-rival Pittsburgh, and Tampa Bay before downing expansion Vegas this spring.

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"When you get this close to the Cup, it's hard", Fleury said. "There's no side entrance that you can get into". At The Disco pregame concert, the Golden Knights are a slight favorite in Game 5. They both play up on the top forward lines, along with the top power-play units, so if there are extra chances, they will be there to capitalize on it.

It was looking like the Golden Knights would extend the series until midway through the third period, when Devante Smith-Pelly scored a lovely goal on a quick skate-to-stick play.

"It means everything", Eller said.

While Cherry earlier in the interview said he was "in Ovi's corner", his criticism of Kuznetsov echoed similar sentiments Cherry shared about his countryman and teammate, Ovechkin, for celebrating after reaching the 50-goal mark during the 2009 season.

"He doesn't remember a lot of stuff, but he's going to remember this", Oshie said. I'm not taking it anymore'. We're just focused on the next one. After winning the Presidents' Trophy in 2016 and 2017 only to be knocked off by the Penguins in the playoffs, not much was expected from Washington this postseason.

Washington won the best-of-seven series 4-1.

"We've had doubters from the start", defenseman Shea Theodore said.

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"That's your leader, that's what you want him to do". Back home in D.C., fans will be cheering on their team at Capital One Arena in a watch party that sold out in about 20 minutes. "It's going to take a really good effort to get it done".

The Capitals' triumph also adds another chapter to a stretch of sweet relief for long-suffering, loyal sports fans across North America. The goal was Schmidt's first point of the series.

A cast member from Michael Jackson One by Cirque du Soleil hypes the crowd during the march to the fortress ahead of Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final outside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Thursday, June 7, 2018. His enthusiasm was so infectious that he even got a bro-hug and a cackling laugh from National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman just before handing him Lord Stanley's gleaming silver punchbowl.

Vegas' Brayden McNabb took a penalty just 11 seconds later, and Ovechkin set up in his customary spot in the left faceoff circle to put Nicklas Backstrom's cross-ice pass into a sliver of open net.

After securing victory, the ice was overrun with players and families. The three-time Hart Memorial Trophy victor (regular-season MVP) had 15 goals and 12 assists in 24 postseason games. "Dreaming about it since I was a little kid, obviously".

This time, the other 30 teams were only allowed to protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie, or eight skaters and one goalie. "We knew we could do something special and we did it". Eller battled for position near the crease and after Fleury stopped a shot from Brett Connolly, the puck fell right behind the netminder.

Eller outmuscled Vegas defender Luca Sbisa for the puck, which was sacked at the net by Brett Connolly and squirted through the pads of Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury before it stopped on the edge of the crease.

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Ovechkin, whose hair has gone from jet black to salt-and-pepper gray through his otherwise otherwordly career, seemed destined to become hockey's version of Charles Barkley. He has a -4 rating over the past two games. Carrier hadn't played since the second round against San Jose, while Perron was a healthy scratch for only one game. The Knights scored eight goals in their four consecutive losses.