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Caps players celebrate one-year anniversary of Stanley Cup Championship

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Caps players celebrate one-year anniversary of Stanley Cup Championship

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.

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1 Year ago.

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Tom Wilson was on the ice the moment time expired.

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That moment when... #HappyJune7th

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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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And so this is goodbye, Lord Stanley…for now

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And so this is goodbye, Lord Stanley…for now

On June 7, 2018, Alex Ovechkin triumphantly hoisted the Stanley Cup over his head as the Capitals claimed their first championship in franchise history. Whether you have been a fan of the team since the beginning or were brought into the fold during the Ovechkin era, that moment in 2018 was a special one. Year after year of early playoff exits made some doubt if the moment would ever come. But finally the patience, the perseverance, the unwavering support was rewarded as the team finally claimed the sports’ ultimate prize. It was a moment for Caps fans to celebrate and really the entire city of Washington as it was the first championship the city had seen since 1992.

The ecstasy of the moment was followed by an epic party, a party that included swimming in fountains, a world tour, impromptu tattoos, championship rings and a banner ceremony.

But the party was not meant to last forever.

Sports offer every team a chance of redemption each year. With only one champion, that means every other team has something to strive for. For the first time, however, Caps fans saw the other side of winning a championship. The new season offers 30 teams a chance to improve upon last season. But for the defending champs, the best they can do is defend the Cup. Anything else feels like a disappointment.

With the flick of his stick, Carolina Hurricanes forward Brock McGinn officially ended the Capitals’ reign as Stanley Cup champions on Wednesday. It confirmed the truth that everyone knew in their hearts but did not want to accept: You cannot remain champions forever.

There is an important takeaway from Wednesday’s gut punch that Caps fans should remember and hold with them: It still matters.

How many times had Caps fans left a season thinking to themselves, just gives us one, that’s all we want! After years of hoping, wishing and praying for a championship, it was hard to know how to feel as the new season began. Would it still matter? Would we still live and die with every shot, every save and every goal? Would the game still mean as much as it did before now that the Caps had claimed the Cup or would nothing else ever be as sweet as that first championship?

We got our answer on Wednesday.

As Game 7 drew near, all of those familiar feelings returned, the nervousness, the excitement, the hope, the despair. If Game 7 of the first round could still mean so much, if losing in the playoffs still could make us feel this way, it means the game still matters. If we can all feel as sad as we felt Wednesday, it means the next championship will taste just as sweet.

If that’s how you feel as fans, you can bet the players, the coaches, everyone within the organization feels the same way.

There is also one other thing Caps fans should remember. The team’s reign as champions may be over, but it is not forgotten and not erased. There will always be the memories. We will always remember the moment of hope we had when Lars Eller scored in overtime against Columbus. We will tell our kids about the elation of Evgeny Kuznetsov’s overtime goal that ended an era of futility. Eller’s Cup clinching goal will live on in league history and the team’s names will be forever etched in the Cup’s rings.

McGinn’s goal ended the Caps’ season, but the Stanley Cup banner still remains in the rafters and nothing will ever take that away.

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Stanley Cup Playoffs 2019: NHL playoff bracket projection with one week to go

Stanley Cup Playoffs 2019: NHL playoff bracket projection with one week to go

One week is left in the NHL season, and the playoffs are becoming clearer. Last week, the Washington Capitals officially clinched a spot, along with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins.

Over the weekend, the New York Islanders (45-26-7) clinched a spot in the playoffs with a win over the Buffalo Sabres. Two of their last three games are against playoff teams in the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Capitals. Their final game could decide the top of the Metro Division if they've accrued enough points to keep pace with the Capitals. 

The Carolina Hurricanes (43-29-7) have fallen to the last wild card spot thanks to losses against the Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins. With three games left, two of which are against teams outside the playoffs in New Jersey and Philadelphia, the Hurricanes have a chance to get back to the second wild card spot.

The Pittsburgh Penguins (43-25-11) wrap up their season against the bottom-feeding Detroit Red Wings twice and close out the season against the rebuilding New York Rangers. They'll have ample opportunity to surpass the Isles for second in the Metro for home ice advantage as the number two seed.

The Maple Leafs (45-26-7) dropped what should have been easy points against the Ottawa Senators. They'll need a strong finish against three playoff bound teams in the Islanders, Hurricanes and Lightning if they want to catch up to Boston for a last gasp at home ice advantage.

The Columbus Blue Jackets (43-30-4) keep on winning. They've rocketed up to the first wild card spot and are currently the Capitals first round matchup after a shutout against the Sabres. They draw the Bruins, Rangers and Senators for their last three games of the season.

2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Bracket Projection

Eastern Conference (As of Monday 4/1):

1M Washington Capitals (102 pts) vs. WC1 Columbus Blue Jackets (94 pts)

2M New York Islanders (99 pts) vs. 3M Pittsburgh Penguins (97 pts)

1A Tampa Bay Lightning (122 pts) vs. WC2 Carolina Hurricanes (93 pts)

2A Boston Bruins (103 pts) vs. 3A Toronto Maple Leafs (97 pts)

Western Conference (As of Monday 4/1):

1C Winnipeg Jets (94 pts) vs. WC1 Dallas Stars (89 pts)

2C Nashville Predators (94 pts) vs. 3C St. Louis Blues (92 pts)

1P Calgary Flames (105 pts) vs. WC2 Colorado Avalanche (85 pts)

2P San Jose Sharks (97 pts) vs. 3P Vegas Golden Knights (91 pts)

2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Picture

Eastern Conference (As of Monday 4/1):

Atlantic Division:
1. Tampa Bay Lightning, 122 pts, 4 gms left
2. Boston Bruins, 103 pts, 3 gms
3. Toronto Maple Leafs, 97 pts, 4 gms

Metro Division:
1. Washington Capitals, 102 pts, 3 gms
2. New York Islanders, 99 pts, 4 gms
3. Pittsburgh Penguins, 97 pts, 5 gms

Wild Card:
1. Columbus Blue Jackets, 94 pts, 3 gms
2. Carolina Hurricanes, 93 pts, 3 gms

In the Hunt:
1. Montreal Canadiens, 92 pts, 3 gms

Western Conference (As of Monday 4/1):

Central Division:
1. Winnipeg Jets, 94 pts, 4 gms left
2. Nashville Predators, 94 pts, 3 gms
3. St. Louis Blues, 92 pts, 4 gms

Pacific Division:
1. Calgary Flames, 105 pts, 3 gms
2. San Jose Sharks, 97 pts, 3 gms
3. Vegas Golden Knights, 91 pts, 3 gms

Wild Card:
1. Dallas Stars, 89 pts, 3 gms
2. Colorado Avalanche, 85 pts, 4 gms

In the Hunt:
1. Arizona Coyotes, 84 pts, 3 gms
2. Minnesota Wild, 81 pts, 3 gms

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