One year ago today, the Washington Capitals pulled off the biggest feat in franchise history, clinching their first-ever Stanley Cup Championship.
It was the first championship for the Capitals in 44 years, and the first title for any Washington D.C. sports team in 26 years. The last professional D.C. team to win a championship was the Washington Redskins in the 1992 Super Bowl.
On June 7, 2018, the Caps rallied with two goals in the third period to beat the first-year Las Vegas Golden Knights, 4-3, in Game 5.
Capitals players returned home and famously celebrated with fans around the city until there was no beer left in the District.
Today, members of the 2018 Stanley Cup-winning team looked back on one of the biggest moments in D.C. sports history:
After a scoreless first period, Jakub Vrana got the Caps on the board first.
Devonta Smith-Pelly scored his seventh goal of the postseason and the biggest of his career to tie it up, 3-3, halfway throught the third period.
Lars Eller, who scored the Cup-winning goal at 12:23 of the third, shared a video of the big moment on Instagram.
Tom Wilson was on the ice the moment time expired.
Alex Ovechkin became the first Russian-born team captain to win the Cup. He posted a photo that still warms the hearts of Caps fans everywhere:
You can watch a replay of Game 5 on NBC Sports Washington tonight at 7:30 p.m.
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When the Capitals placed Devante Smith-Pelly on waivers Wednesday, it felt like his time in Washington would soon be at an end. Now it seems that may not be the case.
Smith-Pelly cleared waivers on Thursday meaning no team put in a claim for him and his contract still remains with the Caps. He will be reassigned to the Hershey Bears, Washington’s AHL affiliate, a team official confirmed to NBC Sports Washington.
How long he stays there will largely depend on what the Caps do in the coming days before the trade deadline.
When a player clears waivers and is reassigned to the AHL, he does not need to clear waivers again to be recalled. Thus, the Caps could recall Smith-Pelly at any time provided he fits under the roster limits and salary cap.
The addition of Carl Hagelin puts Washington at the 23-player maximum making this not an option until after the deadline unless the Caps free up another roster spot. Washington is also very tight against the salary cap ceiling and it may take some maneuvering by the team in order to fit Smith-Pelly under the cap.
Smith-Pelly was among the playoff heroes for the Caps last season with seven goals in 24 playoff games. If Washington cannot fit him on the roster during the season, it is almost certain he will be recalled for the playoffs.
Whether he will be expected to take on a significant role, however, seems doubtful after he was waived and with Hagelin now in the fold.
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The top line for the Capitals on Sunday against the Chicago Blackhawks is Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie, but the starting lineup is Ovechkin, Backstrom and Devante Smith-Pelly. Why the change?
It all has to do with the last time the Caps visited Chicago nearly a year ago.
On Feb. 17, 2018, Washington went into the United Center and were obliterated by the Blackhawks 7-1. But that wasn’t the ugliest thing to happen that night.
While sitting in the penalty box, Devante Smith-Pelly faced racial taunts from some Chicago fans who began chanting “basketball, basketball” at him.
In the wake of the incident, Smith-Pelly handled himself about as gracefully as one could. So, in the team’s return to Chicago Sunday, head coach Todd Reirden felt he should be on the ice for the national anthem.
According to Pierre McGuire during the game broadcast, the idea came from Oshie himself, who advocated that Smith-Pelly start in his place.
The starters traditionally stand on the ice for the anthem while the rest of the players stand at the bench.
Smith-Pelly has remained active against racism in the sport. He and teammate John Carlson invited a youth hockey team whose lone African-American player had faced racial taunts during a game to the Caps’ game on Monday.
Sunday’s move by Reirden is a classy tribute to Smith-Pelly who handled an ugly situation about as well as one could.
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