A Washington Capitals fan celebrates as the Capitals win the Stanley Cup during a watch party at the Capital One Arena, in Washington, D.C. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
June 8 (UPI) -- The Washington Capitals won the 2018 Stanley Cup with a 4-3 win in Game 5 against the Vegas Golden Knights Thursday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Lars Eller scored the game-winning goal with 7:37 remaining in regulation, winning the first Stanley Cup in the franchise's 43-year history.
Eller got the most important goal of the game after a shot from Brett Connolly went through Marc-Andre Fleury's legs. He dug out the rebound after Fleury lost the puck and flicked it into the empty net behind the Golden Knights keeper.
"It meant everything," Capitals star Alex Ovechkin told reporters after lifting the Stanley Cup. "I think this moment, we waiting a long, long time. Since day one, [Capitals owner Ted Leonsis], I was at that house. We just kind of met the family. We were swimming in the pool. He told me, like, one day we're going to win it. It was the first year. I don't even know what the team is."
"I knew he wanted it so bad. This organization want it so bad. It's nice to be part of it. It's nice to be in this organization all 13 years, 14, whatever. It just was -- joy. Was tough time, but we fight through it and we get result."
Jakub Vrana put the Capitals up 1-0 after a scoreless first period. Vrana skated between the circles to Fleury's right on the play. He then sniped a shot into the right side of the net, beating Fleury glove side 6:24 into the second period.
Vegas tied the game about three minutes later. Nate Schmidt lit the lamp on that play. The Golden Knights defenseman ripped a shot from beyond the circles on the play, bouncing the puck off Matt Niskanen's skate and through Braden Holtby's five hole.
Ovechikin put the Capitals up 34 seconds later. Ovechkin inhaled a laser pass from Nicklas Backstrom on that play. He immediately buried a one-timer past a slow Fleury on a power play.
The Golden Knights responded 12:56 into the frame, with David Perron getting credit for their second goal. Colin Miller ripped a shot that was deflected toward the net by Tomas Tatar. Perron fell into the goal with the puck.
Reilly Smith put the home team ahead with just 29 seconds remaining in the frame. Shea Theodore took a big rip out by the blue line on that play. Alex Tuch then got the puck and fired it toward Holby. The puck eventually found Smith on the backpost. He tapped it with his foot before sneaking a shot into the empty net.
Devante Smith-Pelly tied the game once again 9:52 into the final period. He put the Capitals on the board in the period, taking in a long feed from Brooks Orpik. Smith-Pelly brough the puck down with his skate before shooting while diving to his right and beating Fleury glove side.
Ovechkin earned Stanley Cup Playoffs MVP for his postseason performance. He set a Capitals record for most goals in a single postseason, with 15 scores.
"We had an outstanding year, but it doesn't feel like it right now," Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant said. "Obviously, we'll get to that in a few days' time. I didn't talk to the team after the game. They don't want to hear me after the game. They're disappointed and dejected obviously."
"We worked hard tonight, we competed hard. Just couldn't beat that team. It was a good hockey team. They deserved the Stanley Cup. They were the better team in the series and they played great hockey."