In helping deliver a championship Washington had wanted for more than 40 years, Kuznetsov was arguably the Capitals' most instrumental player.
In the end, after a traditional handshake line in which hugs and congratulations were exchanged, the 500-1 long shot to win the Cup before the season, the team that bonded with a town over a mass shooting that altered the trajectory of a first-year franchise and those who would faithfully follow it, acknowledged what was a thundering ovation from the hometown fans. If Vegas holds on, Game 6 in Washington will be Sunday night. The Golden Knights made it to the Stanley Cup Finals in their inaugural season in the National Hockey League.
With Ovechkin in the penalty box for tripping William Karlsson, Vegas then took its first lead just before the end of the middle period. There were lead changes, a coach's challenge, fights and power plays as the teams picked up the pace following a goal-less opening period. He not only allowed the Golden Knights just eight goals over the last four games, but won in Vegas twice.
Until this year, Ovechkin had never made it past the halfway mark of the Stanley Cup playoffs and bore the brunt of the blame for the team's past shortcomings even though he was never truly at fault. The total has also gone under in seven of the Golden Knights' last seven games against Eastern Conference teams. Nicklas Backstrom, who spent 10 seasons with Ovechkin before they finally reached the peak. "When you get so close to the Cup, to miss your chance, it's disappointing".
Nate Schmidt equalised for the Golden Knights before the Capitals' captain Alex Ovechkin restored parity for his side. Thirty-four seconds after that, the Capitals scored again to go ahead 2-1.
Holtby is now 45-37 in 82 career playoff appearances - all with the Capitals - while compiling a 2.04 goals-against average, .929 save percentage and six shutouts.
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Cleveland will need to score plenty of points in order to beat the juggernaut Warriors' in one game this series, let alone four. Smith was a prominent figure in Game 1 for all the wrong reasons. "I'd rather them do that than not acknowledge me at all.
Washington has taken a 1-0 lead in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final against Vegas.
Their story had been too good, their season way too magical.
More in the here and now, Washington is 9-3 in 12 away games during the playoffs.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is defending the expansion draft that loaded first-year franchise Vegas with talent. Now his team is three wins from winning the Cup, but coming back from a three-games-to-one deficit is a tall order. He noted the turnaround seasons this year by Colorado and New Jersey.
With one more victory, Ovechkin would finally have team success to complement his formidable individual accomplishments.
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After the Capitals beat the Vegas Golden Knights 4-3 on the road in Game 5, celebrations erupted inside their home arena at the viewing party and around Chinatown.
In the Ovechkin era, the list of Capitals heartbreak is long.
Vrana opened the scoring when he broke in alone off a nice outlet pass by Tom Wilson and fired a shot over Fleury's glove for his third goal of the playoffs.
Washington captain Alex Ovechkin scored 15 goals in the post season, including one in tonight's Game 5.
And the bet is that this is a franchise that won't have to wait 43 years to raise a Stanley Cup of its own.
The Capitals win also stops short the Las Vegas' stunning run to the Stanley Cup Finals.
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The Knights tried to write one more chapter in their improbable expansion season, but were unable to find a way as the Capitals spilled on the ice to celebrate the first Cup in their 44-year history.