Las Vegas (AFP) – Lars Eller scored with 7:37 left in the third period Thursday to lift the Washington Capitals to a 4-3 win over the Vegas Golden Knights and their first ever Stanley Cup title.
Eller and Devante Smith-Pelly scored third period goals just 2:31 apart as the Capitals came from behind in game five to beat the expansion Golden Knights four games to one and capture their first National Hockey League championship in their 44-year franchise history.
The title ends years of heartbreak not only for the NHL team but for the city of Washington as it had been over 26 years since a major sports team from the US capital had won a championship.
It also marks the first Stanley Cup title for Russian star Alex Ovechkin, who scored his team-leading 15th playoff goal in the second period and was named Most Valuable Player of the 2018 playoffs.
The Capitals won their 10th game on the road in the postseason to equal the league record which had been set four times previously, most recently by the 2012 Los Angeles Kings.
Washington, who entered the league as an expansion team in 1974, ended the miraculous postseason run of the Knights, who are just the third NHL team in league history to reach the finals in their inaugural season.
They join the Toronto Arenas and St. Louis Blues, but the Golden Knights had a much more difficult road to get there.
The Arenas did it in the league’s first ever postseason and Blues were part of a division comprised of all expansion teams in the late 1960s.
Czech forward Jakub Vrana had the other Capitals goal as he opened the scoring in the second period after the teams failed to produce a goal in a tight-checking first period.
The series was physical throughout and there were even some fireworks in the pre-game warmup Thursday when Ovechkin skated by Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and tapped his right pad.
Fleury retaliated with a slash of his own as the two met near centre ice.