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Ovechkin: 'We just can't go home right now'

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Ovechkin: 'We just can't go home right now'

Alex Ovechkin says the Capitals have come too far this season to have it end.

You dont want your season to be ended tonight, Ovechkin said Wednesday in a quietly confident locker room at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. I think its going to be do or die. Everybody knows. Everybody understands. We just cant go home right now.

The Capitals and New York Rangers are two of just five teams remaining in the chase for the Stanley Cup. The Kings, Coyotes and Devils already have clinched berths in the conference finals.

The Capitals have not lost consecutive games since March 22 and 23 against the Flyers and Jets and are 5-0 in the playoffs following losses, including a 2-1 overtime victory in Game 7 against the Bruins in Boston.

Theyre warriors, Capitals coach Dale Hunter said. They know what it takes to win and theyll work hard out there and battle.

I dont think we deserve to end the season right now, Ovechkin said. Everybody knows were a good hockey club. We beat the Stanley Cup champions in a seventh game in Boston. We have that kind of confidence. Right now I dont think anybody thinks, Geez its going to be over.

The Capitals are 6-1 in the playoffs when scoring first. The Rangers are 6-2 when they score first. Tonight likely will be two teams going all out in the first 10 minutes to produce that first goal.

We need to come out hungry, said Matt Hendricks, who scored the opening goal in Game 7 in Boston. We need to come out and try to strike first and thats our goal.

Unlike Monday morning in New York, when players were joking on the ice and in the dressing room following their morning skate, the mood at Kettler on Wednesday was more businesslike.

It's more serious today, Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner said. We realize how important this is and we're making sure everybodys on. It's a do-or-die game for us, so we're all pretty intense. Obviously, we want to do and not die, so we're ready for it.

Ovechkin who was held without a shot in Game 5 for just the second time in his playoff career, was asked if hell need to lead the charge tonight with his team facing elimination. He immediately ran off teammates names as if they were reindeer on his sleigh.

Me, Backy, Sasha, Greener, Laich, Chimmer, Ovechkin said. Everybody has to be 100 percent ready and everybody has to give 100 percent or were done.

To be sure, Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Semin, Mike Green, Brooks Laich and Jason Chimera will need to play their best hockey tonight. But the Capitals will need their highest-paid player to rebound from his Game 5 performance.

I just didnt get an opportunity to take a shot, Ovechkin said. Or if I got the opportunity they blocked it. For me the most important thing is I just need one chance to get the puck and put it in the net.

Hunter, who has played in 186 career playoff games, said hell need Ovechkin and the rest of his players to embrace the pressures of playing with their season on the line.

Youll see him work out there, Hunter said. Hell finish hits and go to the net hard. We know whats at stake. Theres nothing better than being under pressure Thats the best part of it.

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: On to Vegas!

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USA TODAY Sports

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: On to Vegas!

The Capitals are the Eastern Conference Champions!

After dispatching Tampa Bay in Game 7, the Caps claimed the conference crown for just the second time in franchise history. But they're not done yet. Now it's on to Vegas to face the Golden Knights for the Stanley Cup.

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir break down the Caps' win over the Lightning and look ahead to the matchup with the Knights.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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Believe it or not, this isn't the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup

Believe it or not, this isn't the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup

In what is perhaps the most unexpected Stanley Cup Final pairing in recent memory, the Washington Capitals and the Las Vegas Golden Knights are going to make history this year.

Either it is going to be the first expansion team to win a title in their first season, or it will be a team looking to end a 27-year title drought for one of the biggest cities in the United States.

But what it will not be is the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup.

Going even farther back than the Capitals last Stanley Cup appearance (1998), the Georgetown Hoyas and UNLV Rebels met in the 1991 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Sin City took the first, and up until now, the only postseason bout between these two cities. The Larry Johnson-led University of Las Vegas squad powered right past the Hoyas in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament.

[D.C. sports and Second Rounds, I know right?]

Coming fresh off the NCAA title in 1990, UNLV waltzed right to the Final Four before meeting their demise against Duke. It also ended up being the last game for Dikembe Mutombo in a Georgetown uniform.

While in all likely-hood this will not be the final game/ series for Alex Ovechkin rocking the red, it may be his last and only chance for him to play this far into a postseason.

In the past two seasons, Vegas has gone from zero professional teams to having a Stanley Cup contender, a WNBA franchise, and lined up to take over the Oakland Raiders in 2020. 

Now time for the Golden Knights' Cinderella story to come up a little bit short. 

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