Remember back in May 2018 when the Capitals surpassed previous expectations and entered the final round of the NHL Playoffs? Remember when Caps fans went crazy as their team returned from Las Vegas tied in the series 1-1 to play their first home ice game on June 2nd?
Game One had fans nervous as the Caps left the ice following a 6-4 loss to the Vegas Knights. The scoring was back and forth, until Tomas Nosek scored one on the Capitals. Followed by an empty net goal, Nosek led to the Knights to their one and only victory in the final round on May 28th.
Game Two was all about the Caps winning! This time the Capitals had better control of the puck and had a championship look about them. Vegas took an early lead and the Capitals Lars Eller tied the game in the first period. Two more goals in the second period by Alex Ovechkin and Brooks Orpik (Surprise!) gave the Caps a 3-1 lead, which VGK Shea Theodore cut to 3-2 on their power play. The Caps of course had Braden Holtby and “The Save” which turned everything around. May 30th was the pivotal point when fans realized the likelihood that the Cup would be coming to Washington.
The Capitals returned to cheering crowds at Kettler, DC streets full of red shirts, and a packed and exhilarated Capital One Arena on June 2nd. In Game Three, Alexander Ovechkin was first to score in the second period after a scoreless first. Even former Caps player, now Vegas Knights, Nate Schmidt couldn’t stop him. Evgeny Kuznetsov showed he was all in with a second goal for the Caps. The Knights’ Nosek scored VGK’s first and only goal for the night. Finally, Devante Smith-Pelly, with help for now former Cap Jay Beagle, scored a Caps goal and cinched the 3-1 win for the boys in red.
Fans were really pumped now for a game four at home. The Arena was packed again. Game Four played out to a successful end on 4 June. The domination by the Caps was breathtaking. First TJ Oshie scored, then Tom Wilson, Devante Smith-Pelly, and John Carlson- all before the Knights James Neal got one past Holtby for a 4-1 score in the second period. Reilly Smith put one more up for VGK before Michal Kempny responded to make it 5-2. The surprise of the night was a goal by Brett Connolly securing a 6-2 win over Vegas.
Once again the Capitals packed their bags for Las Vegas. Meanwhile, Capital One Arena opened its doors to fans while the streets and bars outside became a sea of red. Miles away, the Caps said they could feel the DC energy in the desert as the first period of Game Five ended scoreless for both teams. Jakub Vrana got the puck past Marc-Andre Fleury first. Nate Schmidt tied it only to have Ovechkin answer with a power play goal. David Perron gave Vegas fans a spark of hope turning the score around to a tie game followed by Reilly Smith, giving them a one-goal lead by the end of the second period 3-2 VGK.
The third period began with fans everywhere holding their breath. DSP’s goal set fans on the edge of their seats as the game was once again tied. Finally at the 12:23 mark, Lars Eller provide the one-goal lead for the Capitals. In Washington the fans were nearly passing out as minutes ticked by.
And then it happened.
The buzzer sounded.
The game was over.
The Capitals were Stanley Cup Champions for the first time.
Ovi screamed. Nicky screamed.
Capitals fans around the world screamed.
CHAMPIONS! yes CHAMPIONS!!
June 7, 2018.
A day we will never forget!!
And that was only the beginning of the June to Remember and the Summer of Celebration!
We still get chills thinking about it.
Where were you? How did you react?