The Washington Capitals are heading to their first Stanley Cup Final in 20 years. The team entered the NHL in 1974, but only made the final one previous time, back in 1997-98 behind the goaltending of Olaf Kolzig and the shooting prowess of Peter Bondra. Amazingly, that was the previous high-water mark for D.C. sports, as no Washington team in the four major sports had made their conference championship since then. (The Washington Mystics did make the league semifinals in 2017.) And the Capitals are now heading to the Stanley Cup Final against the expansion Vegas Golden Knights, thanks to a 4-0 road win in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning Wednesday night. That win started with a great opening goal from Washington captain Alex Ovechkin (who really is an excellent playoff performer) just over a minute into the game:
— The Game Haus Sports (@TGHSports) May 24, 2018
The Lightning had some great chances of their own, including Yanni Gourde fanning on a puck in the crease with an open net and a couple of breakaways foiled by Capitals’ goalie Braden Holtby, but it was Washington who capitalized. Andre Burakovsky scored two second-period goals to put the Capitals up 3-0, and Niklas Backstrom then iced it with a goal with just under four minutes left in the final frame. And that meant Washington was moving on.
Interestingly enough, Ovechkin, like Vegas assistant captain Deryk Engelland before him, actually lifted the conference championship trophy (the Prince of Wales Trophy for the Eastern Conference, the Clarence Campbell Bowl for the Western Conference), so that particular superstition won’t have an effect on this year’s final. That’s good, as there are plenty of amazing storylines here without superstitions, from Vegas continuing their best-ever expansion showing to Washington finally getting the Cup shot many figured they’d have hit at some point over the past decade. (And that’s to say nothing of Golden Knights’ GM George McPhee and defenseman Nate Schmidt going up against their old team.) The series will begin in Vegas Monday:
GOLDEN KNIGHTS vs CAPITALS #StanleyCup schedule
(All times 5 pm PT)
Game 1 at Vegas: Mon May 28
Game 2 at Vegas: Wed May 30
Game 3 at Washington: Sat June 2
Game 4 at Washington: Mon June 4
Game 5 at Vegas: Thu June 7
Game 6 at Washington: Sun June 10
Game 7 at Vegas: Wed June 13
— David Schoen 📰🗞🏒 (@DavidSchoenLVRJ) May 24, 2018
This should be a fascinating matchup, and one with great storylines for both teams. We’ll see which team takes home the Cup.