They finally did it.
The Capitals faced a third-period deficit in Game 5 against the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday, but their resiliency broke through once again in a 4-3 Stanley Cup-clinching victory.
After a scoreless first period, both teams erupted in the second period for five combined goals. The Caps trailed 3-2 heading into the third, but heroic goals from Devante Smith-Pelly and Lars Eller turned a one-goal deficit into a one-goal lead and that would be enough to finish off Vegas.
Here are the three stars of the game:
1. Alex Ovechkin: The way Ovechkin played, you would have thought it was his team that faced elimination. He was a force to be reckoned with all night and played like someone who absolutely did not want the series to return to Washington.
When Vegas tied the game at 1 in the second period, Ovechkin drew a tripping penalty from Brayden McNabb right off the ensuing faceoff. He then scored on the power play to restore the Caps’ lead just 34 seconds after the Golden Knights had tied it.
Ovechkin finished the game with 11 shot attempts including five shots on goal.
2. Devante Smith-Pelly: He did it again.
Smith-Pelly has been phenomenal this postseason and he again delivered in Game 5. With the Caps trailing 3-2 in the third period, Brooks Orpik managed to keep the puck in a clearing attempt at the blue line and he flung it back in. The puck got through the defense to Smith-Pelly who kicked it out in front of him then scored a diving goal past the outstretched pad of Marc-Andre Fleury to tie the game at 3.
The goal was Smith-Pelly's seventh of the postseason in just 24 games. He had only seven goals in the regular season in 75 games.
3. Lars Eller: Eller's name will live on forever in the history of the Capitals as it was his goal that proved to be the winner.
A shot from Brett Connolly just managed to squeak through the pads of Fleury and came to a rest right behind the netminder. Eller saw it, gained inside positioning on Luca Sbisa, and tapped the puck into the open net.
It was fitting for Eller to score the game-winner considering his overtime goal in Game 3 of the first round turned the postseason around completely for the Caps.
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