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Celebrating the Stanley Cup with the fans meant everything to the Caps

Celebrating the Stanley Cup with the fans meant everything to the Caps

The Washington Capitals won the Stanley Cup on Thursday and the party went non-stop all the way to Tuesday's parade.

One of the best aspects of that party has been the team's genuine desire to share the celebration with the fans. On Tuesday, the Capitals victory parade gave them the opportunity to open up the party to the hundreds of thousands of fans who filled the streets and the National Mall.

"There's a love affair between the city and the players, it's so fantastic," Barry Trotz said to the media.

"It's been a long time since we had a championship here in this city," Nicklas Backstrom said. "To be able to after all these years to bring it, it's great."

The team rode through the streets of Washington with their adoring fans lined en masse on either side throughout the parade route. As the team arrived at the stage on the Mall, a throng of red-clad fans awaited them stretching as far as the eye could see.

"I couldn't see the end of people from the stage," Tom Wilson said. "This is home, this city has made us feel so welcome. It's unbelievable to give back the least we could and just celebrate with them."

The postseason heartbreak of recent years was not just felt by the players. There were many fans who lived and died in the stands and watching from near and far.

But just as the team was able to get over the postseason hump, so was a home crowd that approached every playoff game with a sense to trepidation. The difference in the atmosphere at Capital One Arena after Washington's win over the Pittsburgh Penguins was a noticeable one and the players credited the fans with helping them finish the job and bring home the Cup.

"It takes every piece of the city, it takes every piece of the team," Wilson said. "You don't just win a Stanley Cup. It's the hardest thing maybe in sports to win. Just to see the atmosphere, see everybody out here, and to celebrate with each other because everybody earned it."

"These fans have lived through a lot with us, too," John Carlson said. "We're all in this together."

And that was why Tuesday's parade was so important. 

Despite all the years of heartbreak and the team failing to live up to its lofty expectations, the fans kept coming back hoping things would be different. When the team needed that boost from the crowd to help carry them through four grueling rounds of playoff hockey, Washington was there for them helping to push to the team on.

The Stanley Cup will mean a lot to Alex Ovechkin's legacy. It likely saved Trotz's job. It cemented Braden Holtby's place as the team's No. 1 netminder after a difficult season. It validated the oft-criticized Brooks Orpik's place in the lineup. It turned Michal Kempny into a top-four defenseman.

But despite all the individual benefits that come with winning the Cup, the team has never lost sight of the fact that they also won this for the fans and the city they play for.

"It's sort of a life-changing moment for every one of these players and their families and myself and hopefully for the fans who had to endure a lot of time," Trotz said. "We're glad to bring a championship to Washington."

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3 players who stood out in playoff rematch against the Hurricanes: Samsonov gets the full game and the win

3 players who stood out in playoff rematch against the Hurricanes: Samsonov gets the full game and the win

WASHINGTON -- In a reversal of last season’s playoff, the Capitals dominant forecheck suffocated the Carolina Hurricanes for much of the game on Friday in a 3-2 preseason win. The game was the final preseason game in Washington as the Caps’ three remaining contests all will come on the road.

Here are three players who impressed in the home preseason finale.

Ilya Samsonov

Samsonov faced only 15 shots from a clearly outmatched Hurricanes roster, but he looked impressive in the few times he was tested. The save of the night came in the second period when he denied Julien Gauthier on a breakaway.

Gauthier attempted the old Peter Forsberg move and skated to his right while trying to craftily tuck the puck in to the left. Samsonov slid with Gauthier, but stuck out his stick to deny the shot and make the tremendous save.

Samsonov continued to demonstrate his comfort playing the puck with his stick as he also denied a scoring opportunity with a well-timed poke check and was always quick to play the puck when it came behind the goal line.

One area in which he was not comfortable was the glove. There were multiple occasions in which he was able to get a glove on the puck, but was not able to catch it creating dangerous opportunities for Carolina’s offense.

The Hurricanes managed only seven shots on goal through the first two periods, but managed some more pressure in the third. The shutout bid was ended in the third when Brock McGinn followed up his own rebound to score Carolina’s first goal of the game. The second goal came on a fluky bounce off the backboards that Janne Kuokkanen was able to whack behind Samsonov before he could get a glove to it.

While Todd Reirden likely hoped Samsonov would be more tested than he was, he was up to the task with 13 saves.

Brian Pinho

The Caps recorded three goals on the night and Pinho had two of them.  In the first period, Axel Jonsson-Fjallby created a turnover on the forecheck. Feeling the pressure, Fredrik Claesson tried a hopeful clear that was cut off at the blue line by Pinho who skated in and tucked the puck through the 5-hole of goalie Anton Forsberg. He scored again in the third period on the power play when his shot deflected off of Jake Bean and took a favorable bounce up before dropping into the net.

Pinho led the Capitals with five points in three games at the 2019 Prospect Showcase, but at 24 years old, he would be expected to play well. He faced slightly better competition on Saturday and still was able to produce with two goals on the night.

Richard Panik

One of the newest Caps, Panik has looked extremely comfortable in both of his preseason games thus far. He was again strong on the penalty kill where he logged 1:35 of ice time. He also looked strong offensively.

Panik played very heavy below the goal line which suits the Caps’ offensive cycle the team likes to utilize. He also showed good vision as, in the third period, he was able to fight off a check and literally kicked the puck out to a wide-open Tavis Boyd in the slot.

With Panik and Carl Hagelin together, the Caps should have a much more formidable penalty kill this season.

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How to watch: Capitals vs. Hurricanes preseason Game 3

How to watch: Capitals vs. Hurricanes preseason Game 3

The Washington Capitals remain undefeated in preseason play, thanks to Tom Wilson's clutch overtime goal and a Nicklas Backstrom bouncing saucer-pass-turned-shot

Saturday night, the Caps will get their first crack at the Carolina Hurricanes, who knocked them out in the first round of the playoffs last season. This game is also the first one that comes after the Caps whittled their roster down after the first round of cuts, which included Caps 2019 draft picks Connor McMichael and Aliaksei Protas.

The Caps will face the Hurricanes in the regular season on October 5 at Capital One Arena in their home opener.

CAPITALS-HURRICANES PRESEASON GAME 3: HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals vs. Carolina Hurricanes

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: Saturday, September, 21, 7:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Capitals-Hurricanes preseason game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Hurricanes preseason game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

Radio: Caps Radio 24/7

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