It all changed in Las Vegas Thursday night, against the team playing with the ultimate house money.
Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin, of Russian Federation, hoists the Stanley Cup after the Capitals defeated the Golden Knights in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals Thursday, June 7, 2018, in Las Vegas. However, the Vegas Golden Knights are still an incredible team that has won 12 of their last 15 home games when a favorite and hasn't lost back-to-back home teams since mid-March. "And I hope that the fans in Las Vegas don't forget that".
Vegas couldn't lose, no matter what happened in this series.
Capital One Arena in downtown Washington, the Caps' home stadium, was full to the rafters and rocking for a free jumbotron viewing of the away game. Anything else, and the Capitals will be raising the Cup tonight. It was another thing entirely that a team from Las Vegas did it. The Vegas Golden Knights crashed hockey's biggest party less than a year after creating a roster in the expansion draft.
Alex Ovechkin - Ovi has averaged over one point per game for the entire playoffs, and with this set to be a career-defining moment for him, I see ZERO slowing down for him. And, there are plenty of them.
It's not clear at this stage whether Walker will have his name engraved on the historic Stanley Cup trophy; a player has to have played during the Finals to automatically qualify.
In the end, the Caps not only had their long-deferred Cup, but an entire first-class organization, a consistent victor since the 1982-83 season and the best regular season team in the National Hockey League over the past 10 years, would ultimately be remembered for its gifts, for its ability to keep hoping and battling. In those 10 years, the Pens and Blackhawks have won six Cups - three each. None of those seasons ended with a Cup.
After the game, fans at T-Mobile Arena stood and chanted: "Go Knights Go!"
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Unafraid of the impending closing of the subway, Capitals fans partied in the streets Thursday night and into Friday morning to celebrate the franchise's first Stanley Cup and the city's first title in the major four professional sports since 1992. When he received the Cup from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, he shouted "Yeah!"
In a two-month span, through four playoff series, the Caps relived every sad, unlucky or mortifying event that had dogged their franchise since the day it was born.
The biggest windfall at the draft came in the form of first-string netminder Fleury, 33, a three-time Stanley Cup victor who the Pittsburgh Penguins may have thought was washed up.
In the Ovechkin era, the list of Capitals heartbreak is long.
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.
Washington got 105 points in the regular season, but entered the playoffs unsure about its starting goaltending. Braden Holtby has given up 47 goals on 608 shots faced and Philipp Grubauer has allowed eight goals on 49 shots. "It's good to get back home".
The Entertainment Capital of the World is tailor-made for the razzmatazz associated with main-stream United States sport - and the Golden Knights have not disappointed with their offerings thus far.