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Thread: Cnotes 2017 NHL Best Bets-News-Trends-Thru The Stanley Cup ! !

  1. #1401  
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    Sep 2005
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    Time (ET) Away Home Site
    8:00 PM Washington Capitals Vegas Golden Knights T-Mobile Arena

    Time (ET) Away Home Site
    8:00 PM Vegas Golden Knights Washington Capitals Capital One Arena



    DATE............... W-L-T........%............UNITS

    06/04/2018 0-2-0 0.00% -10.50
    05/30/2018 0-2-0 0.00% -13.00
    05/28/2018 1-1-0 50.00% -0.50

    BEST BETS:...................ATS...................UNITS..................O/U..................UNITS...............TOTAL

    06/04/2018..................0 - 1...................-5.00...................0 - 1..................-5.50................-10.50
    05/30/2018..................0 - 1...................-7.50...................0 - 1..................-5.50................-13.00
    05/28/2018..................1 - 0...................+5.00..................0 - 1..................-5.50................-0.50
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  2. #1402  
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    Tuesday’s 6-pack

    Odds to win the US Open golf tournament next week:

    9-1— Dustin Johnson

    10-1- -Rory McIlroy

    12-1— Jordan Spieth

    14-1— Eldrick Woods

    15-1— Jason Day, Justin Thomas

    18-1— Jon Rahm, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler

    Quote of the Day

    “My father’s life became exponentially worse the minute he decided to run for president.”
    Eric Trump

    Tuesday’s quiz
    Which major league baseball team once drafted Tom Brady as a catcher?

    Monday’s quiz
    Milwaukee Brewers played one year in Seattle before moving to Wisconsin; they were the Seattle Pilots in 1969.

    Sunday’s quiz
    Kevin Durant, Jeff Green are the only two active NBA players who played for the Seattle SuperSonics.


    Tuesday’s List of 13: Nobody asked me, but……

    13) Crossed paths last week with a group of four families and their 8-10 year old kids who were visiting from California, and were off to a trip to Cooperstown later that day.

    I always wonder when people come so far to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame, what they think of it once their trip is over. Cooperstown is in the middle of nowhere, 72 miles from Albany- if you like trees and lakes, you’ll enjoy the drive there. Very rural.

    Baseball Hall of Fame itself is tremendous, and Sal’s Pizza across the street is very good.

    12) Legalized sports betting starts today in Delaware; West Virginia hopes to have sports betting up and running by the start of football season. New Jersey is supposed to start sometime this month. New York? Who the bleep knows.

    11) Danny Hurley is the new basketball coach at UConn; he threw out the first ball at the Mets’ game Sunday. This will take some getting used to.

    How good a job is UConn? Not a lot of great players in-state, and the fanbase was spoiled by Jim Calhoun, not to mention how often the women’s team wins.

    10) Why does the baseball Wild Card exist? The ’93 San Francisco Giants went 103-59, and didn’t make the playoffs— how about that?

    Wild Cards started in baseball in ’95, but oddly, the Giants had losing seasons is 1994-96, after winning 103 games in ’93. They’ve made up for all that this decade.

    9) Oakland A’s drafted Oklahoma CF Skyler Murray with the #9 pick in the baseball draft; the thing here is, Murray is also penciled in to be the Sooners’ QB this fall. He is 5-10, very short for a potential NFL QB, but Brees, Tarkenton, Jurgensen, Russell Wilson are all under 6-feet tall.

    By way of information, the No. 9 pick in last year’s baseball draft got a $4M signing bonus.

    We’ll see how that works out, but would he leave Oklahoma now for $4-5M?

    8) Washington Nationals lost P Jeremy Hellickson (hamstring) after four pitches Sunday; he had been doing great work for Washington. Hamsrings generally take a while to heal.

    7) On May 1, Colorado Rockies were 30-1 to win the World Series; on June 1, they were 22-1.

    6) Part of the reason why? Arizona Diamondbacks hit .193 as a team in May.

    5) Have you seen David Letterman lately? He has this big, bushy white beard that makes him look like Rutherford B Hayes. First time I saw him with the beard, I didn’t recognize him.

    4) Philadelphia Eagles went for it on 4th down 29 times last year, most in the NFL.

    3) Tampa Bay’s Nate Snell tied an American League record Sunday when he struck out the first seven Mariners he faced in Seattle.

    2) ESPN wants to televise New York-Toronto game on Sunday Night Baseball July 8, but New York has a doubleheader in Baltimore the next day- they want Sunday’s game to be a day game.

    The two sides, MLB and the union are negotiating to reach a compromise, but if one isn’t found, New York might boycott dealing with ESPN personnel.

    Dodgers-Angels, Braves-Brewers or Cardinals-Giants would be alternative games to show.

    1) Baseball draft is weird, since it falls during the college baseball national tournament. How does it affect guys who are still playing? Lot of money on the line for these high draft picks, and the rookie leagues start on June 15th.
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  3. #1403  
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    Caps on verge of Cup after routing Vegas
    June 4, 2018

    WASHINGTON (AP) Evgeny Kuznetsov smiled about getting four assists. He tried not to smile too much at the thought of being one win away from the Stanley Cup.

    With Kuznetsov and goaltender Braden Holtby leading the way, the Washington Capitals are on the verge of capturing the first title in their 43rd season after routing the Vegas Golden Knights 6-2 on Monday night to take a commanding 3-1 series lead.

    Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals will get their first chance to hoist the Cup in Game 5 on Thursday night in Las Vegas.

    One more win.

    ''I've never been there,'' Kuznetsov said after just the fourth four-assist game in Cup Final history. ''And I don't really care about that yet, so it's kind of easy for me. You know me, I always stay loose a little bit especially off the games. I'm pretty sure when game gonna come, we're gonna a little bit think about it. It's pretty hard to not think about that.''

    T.J. Oshie, Tom Wilson and Devante Smith-Pelly all scored in the first period to get the Capitals rolling against a determined Vegas team that has not found consistent answers against Holtby, who stopped 28 shots in another strong showing. The Golden Knights outchanced the Capitals by a wide margin but fell apart after James Neal clanked a shot off the post instead of hitting a wide-open net early, and the expansion team's Cinderella run could be over in a matter of days.

    ''It probably changes the game,'' Neal said. ''It's probably a different game after that I had a wide-open net, and then I just hit the post.''

    John Carlson, Michal Kempny and Brett Connolly also scored as thunderous chants of ''We want the Cup! We want the Cup!'' rang out from the crowd. No team since the Detroit Red Wings in 1942 has blown a 3-1 lead in the Cup Final.

    ''It can be easy in a game where you can clinch to get a little bit ahead of ourselves,'' Oshie said. ''But we've got a good group of leaders in the room ... and we'll be focused at the start.''

    The Capitals seem to be getting enough bounces to make up for nine previous first- or second-round playoff exits in the Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom era - and plenty of disappointments in the previous decades, too.

    While Vegas rang several shots off the posts, the Capitals seized just about every opportunity as they have throughout this surprising run. Kuznetsov padded his lead as the playoffs' leading scorer with primary assists on Oshie's power-play goal that made it 1-0 and Wilson's that doubled the lead.

    ''He just tells me to put my stick on the ice and he'll hit it,'' Wilson said of Kuznetsov. ''It's a privilege to play with him. He's one of the best at his craft.''

    Smith-Pelly, who scored the insurance goal to ice Game 3, kicked the puck from his left skate to his stick and roofed a shot on Marc-Andre Fleury with 20.5 seconds left in the first period. Fleury came into the final as the Conn Smythe front-runner for playoff MVP honors but looked human again by allowing six goals on 23 shots at a defense that has often left him vulnerable.

    Fleury called the loss ''frustrating and demoralizing.'' Coach Gerard Gallant was quick to absolve his goaltender of blame.

    ''At least five of the six goals were wide-open nets,'' Gallant said. ''Nothing he could do on them.''

    Kuznetsov leads all playoff scorers with 31 points, Ovechkin is tied for the goal lead with 14 and Holtby showed again his ability to alter the course of a game. Holtby got some good fortune from the post on shots by Alex Tuch, Neal and Brayden McNabb, but he also had not allowed a goal in more than 62 minutes stretching back to Game 3.

    ''We obviously got some breaks at the start of the game,'' Holtby said. ''Honestly I thought (Neal's shot) was in, my angle, and somehow it didn't go in.''

    Somehow, the Capitals have turned around their results at home, winning their past three in Washington after losing five of their first eight. This one got chippy at the end when Oshie broke Vegas defenseman Colin Miller's nose on a hit and was given a game-ending 10-minute misconduct along with Golden Knights forwards Deryk Engelland and Ryan Reaves.

    ''It is not ideal, but it is the Stanley Cup finals and everyone wants to win,'' Backstrom said.

    Pierre-Edouard Bellemare said he and his Vegas teammates can't win three games in one night, so they have no choice but to focus on the next opportunity to stave off elimination.

    Coach Barry Trotz wants his players to relax and not think too much about the chance in front of them.

    ''You have the opportunity to do something special as a group, but it's going to be the hardest thing to do, the hardest game to win because there's a very good team on the other side, a very proud team,'' Trotz said. ''They're great in their building. We're not scared of their building. We've proved it that we're very good on the road and we're going to go there and put our best effort in there.''
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  4. #1404  
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    Caps' Ovechkin and Kuznetsov inspire Russian players, fans
    June 5, 2018

    WASHINGTON (AP) Alex Ovechkin knows the Washington Capitals have plenty of fans back in Russia.

    ''Over there lots of friends, lots of people watch the games,'' Ovechkin said of his countrymen. ''It's been huge.''

    He is also huge in Barrie, Ontario, where projected top-five draft pick Andrei Svechnikov has been watching Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov serve as inspirations for young Russian players and fans on this run to the Stanley Cup Final. The native of Siberian city Barnaul got to meet his fellow Russians on Monday morning and got an up-close view of their dominance in Game 4 that night.

    ''(Ovechkin) and Kuzy and Orlov, these guys just famous in hockey world,'' Svechnikov said. ''I am very happy.''

    Ovechkin, Kuznetsov and Orlov are making plenty of young Russian players and fans happy. They are just one win away from winning the Stanley Cup. Svechnikov admired smooth-skating, high-scoring Hall of Fame winger Pavel Bure growing up, and now watches in amazement at what Kuznetsov does on the ice with his skill - not to mention his bird-flapping celebrations.

    ''Great skater. Every time wants to be involved, hungry every time. Very smart player. A lot of skill,'' Svechnikov said of Kuznetsov, who leads the playoffs in scoring and added four assists in a 6-2 win over Vegas. ''He just like star, you know? He can do whatever he want.''

    The joy of Ovechkin, Kuznetsov and Orlov is being watched closely not only in Washington but back home where they're big fan favorites.

    ''A lot of people watching it because three Russian players in Washington and obviously Ovi big superstar in the world and everybody follow,'' Orlov said. ''A lot of fans, a lot of kids enjoy his game.''

    The Capitals could have the most Russians on a Cup champion in the salary-cap era. The 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning were backstopped to their first franchise title by Nikolai Khabibulin, and the Detroit Red Wings' Russian Five in the 1990s shined a spotlight on all the talent coming out of the old Soviet system.

    After Evgeni Malkin was the only Russian player on the Pittsburgh Penguins' back-to-back Cup champions the past two seasons, this is another showcase of this generation of talent. Kuznetsov and leading scorer Ovechkin are also the top candidates to follow Malkin as just the second Russian to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

    Kuznetsov is reluctant to talk about himself or any other individual player, but he knows this is special for Ovechkin, who has been waiting 13 seasons for this and has nine previous early playoff exits to his name.

    ''Every Russian guy back home pretty happy for him because that's huge,'' Kuznetsov said. ''That's a long time.''

    Ovechkin wished Svechnikov good luck later this month at the NHL draft, where he was the No. 1 pick back in 2004. A short conversation at a morning skate was enough to leave Svechnikov beaming.

    ''Just famous guy - everybody knows him and everybody watch him,'' Svechnikov said. ''It's just an honor to have met with him.''
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  5. #1405  
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    Wednesday’s 6-pack

    More odds to win the US Open golf tournament next week:

    22-1— Patrick Reed

    28-1— Brooks Koepka

    30-1— Matsuyama, Mickelson, Garcia

    33-1— Henrik Stenson

    40-1— Branden Grace

    45-1— Watson, Kuchar, Casey

    Quote of the Day
    “Grit? What is it? I believe it’s driven by love. Inspired by vision and purpose. Fueled by optimism and belief. Powered by faith and hope. Revived by resilience. Kept alive by stubbornness. And if we’re honest includes some fear of failure and desire to prove oneself.”
    Jon Gordon

    Wednesday’s quiz
    In the movie Draft Day, Kevin Costner played the GM of which NFL team?

    Tuesday’s quiz
    Montreal Expos once drafted Tom Brady as a catcher, in the 18th round of the ’95 draft. He was a left-handed hitter.

    Monday’s quiz
    Milwaukee Brewers played one year in Seattle before moving to Wisconsin; they were the Seattle Pilots in 1969.


    Wednesday’s List of 13: Mid-week musings…….

    13) Movie recommendation: I told you about the book last summer, but Molly’s Game the movie was even better. Very good.

    Story deals with a young woman runs celebrity poker game in Los Angeles and New York City; she eventually gets in trouble with the law when she begins raking the pot, which is what makes it illegal. Having members of the Russian mob playing in her games complicates things.

    Anyway, very good movie. Worth your time to watch it.

    12) Jake Arrieta’s complaints with the Phillies’ defensive shifts over the weekend confirmed what I had suspected; when the shifting doesn’t work, it drives some pitchers nuts.

    11) Sporting News ranked all 32 NFL starting QB’s; 19th for Cam Newton seems very low- 30th for Eli Manning seems ridiculously low.

    10) Max Scherzer got three strikeouts on nine pitches in the 6th inning vs Tampa Bay Tuesday, just the 92nd time this has happened in major league history.

    9) Good trivia, part 1; we talked yesterday about the A’s drafting Kyler Murray, the Oklahoma QB/CF. His dad and uncle were also outstanding athletes.

    Turns out his uncle Calvin was the batter when Randy Johnson hit that bird with a pitched ball in a spring training game and the poor bird exploded in mid-air.

    8) Good trivia, part 2: When Jesse Owens won the gold medal in the 200-meter sprint in the 1936 Olympics, Mack Robinson won the silver medal- they both broke the previous Olympic record.

    Mack Robinson was Jackie Robinson’s older brother.

    7) Vince McMahon’s XFL hired Oliver Luck (Andrew Luck’s dad) as Commissioner/CEO. The elder Luck was also once President of NFL Europe and AD at West Virginia- he was a backup QB for the Houston Oilers back in the day.

    XFL starts in 2020; the AAF will also be a spring football league— it starts next year.

    6) Nebraska Cornhuskers signed dual-threat QB Luke McCaffery, the youngest son of former NFL WR Ed McCaffery, and brother of Panthers’ RB Christian McCaffery.

    5) A horse named Gronkowski is 12-1 to win the Belmont Stakes Saturday on Long Island.

    4) When a team is rebuilding like the Kansas City Royals are, they tend to draft more college players, since they’re obviously older than high school kids and generally take less time to get to the major leagues. The Royals need help.

    First 11 players the Royals drafted this week are college players.

    3) A government contractor was taken into custody at a Secret Service checkpoint at the White House when he showed up for work. He was wanted for attempted murder. Yikes.

    2) Get well soon to New Jersey Giants’ GM Dave Gettleman, who diagnosed with lymphoma this week. Hope he is feeling better soon.

    1) RIP CM Newton, 88, former basketball coach at both Vanderbilt/Alabama, who was later the AD at Kentucky. He was the President of USA Basketball from 1992-96. RIP, sir.
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  6. #1406  
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    NHL Stanley Cup Final Game 5 betting preview and odds: Golden Knights at Capitals

    Washington Capitals at Vegas Golden Knights (-145, 5.5)

    Caps leads series 3-1.

    The Washington Capitals are venturing to Vegas with more than just breaking the bank on their minds ... they are looking to capture their first Stanley Cup title in franchise history. The Capitals can do precisely that on Thursday as they look to secure Washington's first professional sports championship since 1992 with a win over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 5 at T-Mobile Arena.

    While teams that hold a 3-1 series lead on the NHL's grandest stage own a 32-1 record, the Capitals have failed to close the deal with that same advantage on a league-most five occasions in their star-crossed history -- and as recently as 2015 against the New York Rangers. "There's been heartbreak here, we know that. But I think that's kind of scarred over and has made us a little stronger for it," said Washington forward T.J. Oshie, who scored a goal and set up two others in Monday's 6-2 romp to give him 17 points (five goals, 12 assists) in his past 15 contests. While the Capitals are looking to exorcise some demons, Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant said his expansion team essentially is playing with the house's money. "The pressure is off us now," Gallant said in a conference call. "We're going to go out and play and work hard and go have some fun. So we'll see what happens."

    TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, Sportsnet, TVAS


    LINE HISTORY: The Golden Knights opened as -140 home favorites for Game 5 and as of Wednesday night that number is up slightly to -145. The total hit betting boards at 5.5 and has been steady at that number for the entire series.

    CONSENSUS: Bettors are taking the home favorites with 75 percent of wagers coming on the Knights. Users are also expecting a high scoring Game 5 with 72 percent of totals selections coming on the Over.

    W L OTL GAA Save % SO
    Braden Holtby 15 7 2 2.13 .923 2
    Marc-Andre Fleury 13 6 4 2.15 .929 4


    Capitals - No injuries to report.

    Golden Knights - D Brayden McNabb (Questionable, Possible Suspension), LW William Carrier (Questionable, Upper Body), G Malcolm Subban (Questionable, Illness), D Clayton Stoner (Out Indefinitely, Abdominal).

    ABOUT THE CAPITALS (64-32-8-1, 55-45 O/U): The recipient of the Conn Smythe Trophy has been a heated debate in Washington, with some tabbing Braden Holtby (15-7, 2.13 goals-against average) as the front-runner since his paddle save on the doorstep in the waning moments of Game 2 arguably turned this series around. The former Vezina Trophy winner recorded consecutive shutouts to eliminate Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference final and has won five of six overall, with a .965 save percentage in those victories. Three-time Hart Trophy winner Alex Ovechkin (NHL high-tying 14 goals, 12 assists) and fellow Russian countryman Evgeny Kuznetsov (12 goals, 19 assists) are also in the mix, with the latter netting four assists on Monday to become the fifth player since 1997 to reach the 30-point plateau in a single postseason to move within five points of the 36 recorded by Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin in the 2009 playoffs.

    ABOUT THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS (64-29-5-3, 49-48 O/U): James Neal has reached the 20-goal plateau in 10 of his 11 NHL seasons, but the 30-year-old felt a bit snake-bitten during the first period of Game 4 when his bid into an open net caromed off the far post. "Man, you want those chances," Neal said. "Nine times out of 10, you probably put that in the back of the net." Three-time Stanley Cup champion Marc-Andre Fleury hasn't been receiving as many fortunate bounces of late, as he has answered a 12-3 mark with a .947 save percentage in the first three rounds with a 1-3 record and .845 save percentage in the Final.



    * Capitals are 16-5 in their last 21 road games.
    * Golden Knights are 16-2 in their last 18 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
    * Under is 14-4 in Capitals last 18 vs. Pacific.
    * Under is 7-3 in Golden Knights last 10 vs. Eastern Conference.
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  7. #1407  
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    Thursday, June 7

    Washington @ Vegas

    Game 9-10
    June 7, 2018 @ 8:05 pm

    Dunkel Rating:
    Dunkel Team:
    Dunkel Line:
    Dunkel Total:
    by 2
    Vegas Team:
    Vegas Line:
    Vegas Total:
    5 1/2
    Dunkel Pick:
    (+125); Under

    Long Sheet

    Thursday, June 7


    WASHINGTON (64-32-0-9, 137 pts.) at VEGAS (64-30-0-7, 135 pts.) - 6/7/2018, 8:05 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    VEGAS is 65-37 ATS (+27.9 Units) in all games this season.
    VEGAS is 38-21 ATS (+15.6 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record this season.
    VEGAS is 24-15 ATS (+8.1 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record in the second half of the season this season.
    WASHINGTON is 65-41 ATS (+15.0 Units) in all games this season.
    WASHINGTON is 23-14 ATS (+37.0 Units) in a road game where where the total is 5.5 this season.
    WASHINGTON is 41-25 ATS (+11.0 Units) second half of the season this season.
    WASHINGTON is 22-12 ATS (+7.8 Units) after a non-conference game this season.
    WASHINGTON is 41-23 ATS (+16.4 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record this season.
    WASHINGTON is 26-15 ATS (+11.0 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record in the second half of the season this season.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    WASHINGTON is 3-3 (+0.0 Units) against the spread versus VEGAS over the last 3 seasons
    VEGAS is 3-3-0 straight up against WASHINGTON over the last 3 seasons
    3 of 6 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons . (Over=-0.2 Units, Under=-0.7 Units)



    Thursday, June 7

    Trend Report

    Washington Capitals
    Washington is 6-1 ATS in its last 7 games
    Washington is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games
    The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Washington's last 7 games
    Washington is 14-2 ATS in its last 16 games on the road
    Washington is 14-3 SU in its last 17 games on the road
    Vegas Golden Knights
    Vegas is 2-4 ATS in its last 6 games
    Vegas is 13-6 SU in its last 19 games
    The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Vegas's last 6 games
    Vegas is 4-8 ATS in its last 12 games at home
    Vegas is 9-2 SU in its last 11 games at home
    The total has gone OVER in 5 of Vegas's last 7 games at home
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  8. #1408  
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    Vegas more than Cup for some fans
    June 6, 2018

    LAS VEGAS (AP) Aaron and Rhonda Hawley never truly embraced how much the Vegas Golden Knights meant to them until late in the season.

    On March 29, their 17-year-old daughter Brooke and two classmates were killed in a traffic accident in Huntington Beach, California. Since then, the Golden Knights have helped the Hawleys during their grieving process.

    And even with the team trailing the Washington Capitals 3-1 in the Stanley Cup Final, they and thousands of others haven't lost hope and are sticking by their first-year team until the last horn sounds. Aaron Hawley said that's how his little girl would want it.

    ''Her being a soccer player, she would kick a girl in the shin with one second left in the championship game if that's what it took,'' Hawley said Wednesday. ''Brooke was a fighter, and that's what this team is about, it never gives up to the very last second.''

    On Wednesday, for the team's first practice in Las Vegas since being pushed to the brink of elimination, fans decked out in team jerseys and hats and knights helmets and kids with hockey sticks or pucks in their hands packed the Knights' practice facility before they even took the ice. And 45 minutes before the scheduled practice, with nothing in front of them but a fresh sheet of ice, the fans broke into a chant of ''Go Knights Go!'' Game 5 is Thursday night.

    ''We have a chance to play in front of our fans like we have all year long, use that energy to show them that we are also proud to be here and do something great for the city,'' said Knights center Pierre Edouard-Bellemare. ''The city has our backs. I'm not worried about that situation whatsoever. It's us to the city, we want to win for them. Once again, it's one game. That's all we have to think right now.''

    Fan Jerrald Larkin, whose own daughter, Allyssa, played soccer with Brooke Hawley, said he started watching hockey in 1989 and was originally a Los Angeles Kings fan. ''But when VGK became a reality it was all in for them,'' he said. ''VGK has been such a great team and this year has been nothing short of amazing. Right from the beginning this year has been filled with many emotions and some ups and downs. There is no way we can count our team out and we are VGK proud with any outcome.''

    Larkin said he and his wife, Theresa, and their four daughters have been able to grow closer to many other fans because of hockey. While Theresa's family is from Chicago and has been following sports their whole lives, Jerrald is from Vegas and never had a home team to cheer for other than the UNLV Runnin' Rebels basketball team.

    Hawley's dedication to the team led him and his wife to follow the Golden Knights to Washington, where they watched Game 3 at a restaurant and attended Game 4 at Capital One Arena.

    ''As a native Las Vegan, I'm thrilled to see Golden Knights hockey get as much attention as the 1990 UNLV basketball team got,'' Hawley said. ''I consider that a huge accomplishment. I'm worried next year what's going to happen, because what fans don't realize is what this eight-month team has accomplished, is something the Capitals have been waiting on for 44 years.''

    But it's the handful of games he attended with Brooke by his side that will forever be imprinted in his mind.

    ''With soccer practice, and a young girl's social calendar, she made as many games as she could,'' Hawley said, fighting back tears. ''How wonderful it was to sit with her, cheering on our hometown team. She really enjoyed it. We actually got her extra tickets for one game to bring her friend A.J., who also died in the accident. Those are times I will cherish and thank the team for an unbelievable inaugural season. The memories.''
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  9. #1409  
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    Capitals eager to end their title drought in Vegas desert
    June 6, 2018

    LAS VEGAS (AP) The Washington Capitals will play for a Stanley Cup championship Thursday night for the first time in franchise history.

    Although Alex Ovechkin understands the magnitude of this situation, he wants his teammates focused on the Golden Knights, not the silver trophy.

    A desert is a strange place to end a drought, but Ovechkin and his teammates want to seize their very first chance to quench their fans' 43 seasons of frustration when they take the Las Vegas ice for Game 5.

    Even with a commanding 3-1 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final, the Caps all spoke of the importance of consistency and seizing the moment after their light workout Wednesday. Washington has scored 16 goals in four games against the reeling Golden Knights


    Capitals eager to end their title drought
    June 6, 2018

    LAS VEGAS (AP) The Washington Capitals will play for a Stanley Cup championship Thursday night for the first time in 43 NHL seasons. Alex Ovechkin is one win away from carving his name into history at the peak of his incredible hockey career.

    With a 3-1 lead in the Stanley Cup Final and a city thousands of miles away thirsting for its first championship in a generation, the Vegas stakes are awfully high for the Caps in Game 5.

    Ovi still wants his teammates thinking about the Golden Knights, not that silver trophy.

    ''To be honest, I think most of us have never been in this position,'' said Ovechkin, who could become the first Russian captain to raise the Cup. ''For me personally, I don't try to think about it too much what's going on and just try focusing on different things. But it's hard.''

    Exactly what could distract an athlete of Ovechkin's magnitude from the imminent chance to validate his place in his sport?

    ''Whatever. Cars. Hotels. You know, Vegas.''

    Indeed, this desert is a strange place to end a drought. But with three chances to get one win, Ovechkin and his teammates want to seize their very first opportunity for the clincher on the Las Vegas ice.

    With one more victory, Ovechkin would finally have team success to complement his formidable individual accomplishments. The vaunted goal-scorer can also succeed where a generation of Washington athletes have fallen short by leading the Capitals to their first title and the city's first major pro sports championship in a quarter-century.

    With his 33rd birthday looming in the fall, Ovechkin understands the opportunity before him and the magnitude of the situation for everyone who has ever worn the Capitals' jersey.

    It's enough to tighten anybody's grip on the stick, but the Caps didn't appear overly tight during their workout or in the dressing room afterward.

    ''It's a great time,'' Ovechkin said Wednesday. ''Probably the best time in my life, hockey-wise. We just enjoy it together, this moment. It's fun.''

    Even with a commanding series lead, the Caps all spoke of the importance of consistency and seizing the moment after their light workout. Washington has a shockingly lengthy franchise history of playoff collapses, but these Caps promptly won all three potential closeout games in their first three playoff series this spring.

    ''Maybe because we've talked about it so much,'' Caps defenseman John Carlson said. ''Guys are sick of hearing about it from the meetings. Sick of not getting it done. They all kind of blend together, but I think we have come out with great efforts every closing-out game, and we're going to need a big one. This is a good team at home. It's going to take a really good effort to get it done.''

    The Caps don't have the luxury of thinking about the minor disappointment of not being at home to secure Washington's first championship in a major pro sport since the Redskins' Super Bowl victory in January 1992. Back home in D.C., fans will be cheering on their team at Capital One Arena in a watch party that sold out in about 20 minutes.

    ''I think the history of the organization is definitely an important thing, but we're focused on this group,'' Washington's Tom Wilson said. ''We're focused on this year, and obviously once all is said and done or whatever happens, you can look back on it. We want to do it for the city. We want to do it for ourselves.''

    So far in this series, the Caps have done just about everything well. Washington has scored 16 goals in four games against the reeling Golden Knights, whose charmed expansion season has run short of magic in three consecutive losses.

    While the Caps focused on changing nothing from their last three efforts, the Golden Knights also don't believe they need a wholesale change. Coach Gerard Gallant's team is banking on the resilience of a group that hasn't lost four consecutive games at any point in their utterly charmed inaugural season.

    ''It's not the first adversity we've faced this year,'' forward Jonathan Marchessault said. ''You'd rather have the odds in your favor, but I'm thinking about (Game 5). If you start thinking that we have to win three games, sometimes it gets demoralizing. We're just focused on the next one. ... They're in a better situation than us, that's for sure. Stuff we've done this year has never been done, so I think that's what we're thinking about.''


    Smith-Pelly to skip WH visit if Caps win
    June 6, 2018

    LAS VEGAS (AP) Count out Devante Smith-Pelly if the Washington Capitals win the Stanley Cup and are invited to the White House to celebrate with President Donald Trump.

    ''The things that he spews are straight-up racist and sexist,'' Canada's Postmedia quoted Smith-Pelly as saying Wednesday as the Capitals prepared for Game 5 against the Vegas Golden Knights. ''Some of the things he's said are pretty gross. I'm not too into politics, so I don't know all his other views, but his rhetoric I definitely don't agree with. It hasn't come up here, but I think I already have my mind made up.''

    Smith-Pelly, one of two black Capitals players, is from the Toronto area. He spoke two days after Trump canceled the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles' visit to the White House, and a day after NBA stars LeBron James and Curry both said they wouldn't visit.

    The Capitals lead the best-of-seven series 3-1, and can hoist the Cup on Thursday night.

    The 25-year-old Smith-Pelly has scored in the last two games of the finals and had six goals - two of them winners - and an assist in the playoffs. He had seven goals in 75 games in the regular season.


    Run could make up for Caps' failures
    June 7, 2018

    WASHINGTON (AP) As checkered playoff histories go, the Washington Capitals haven't been around nearly as long as some NHL teams.

    The track is still long and sad.

    There was Pat Lafontaine of the Islanders beating them in the four-overtime ''Easter Epic'' back in 1987. Esa Tikkanen missing a wide-open net in the Stanley Cup Final loss to Detroit in 1998.

    Heck, losing nine of 11 postseason meetings against the Pittsburgh Penguins alone is filled to the brim with gut-wrenching letdowns.

    The puck finally seems to be bouncing the right way for the Capitals, who built a 3-1 lead in the Final against Vegas after some rare postseason fortune. Lars Eller's double-overtime winner off his right skate kept his team out of a 3-0 hole in the first round. Then came a cathartic, six-game elimination of the Penguins behind a patchwork lineup full of rookies.

    Against the Golden Knights, Braden Holtby made the stick save of a lifetime to lock up a Game 2 win and opponent James Neal clanked a shot off the post in Game 4, staring at as much net as Tikkanen had 20 years ago.

    It's as though all the bad breaks from the previous 42 seasons of Washington Capitals hockey are being erased - or at least somewhat forgotten - in a run that could deliver the franchise's first title.

    ''It's like the franchise was star-struck,'' said David Poile, who was Washington's general manager from 1982-1995.

    ''They've had all these really good teams, all of these opportunities that appeared that this could be the year that they could win playoff rounds and compete for the Cup or win the Stanley Cup. ... It just feels like - as Barry Trotz would say - the hockey gods have evened things out.''

    Before this spring, the Capitals had made it past the second round of the playoffs just twice and reached the final once, when Tikkanen and Co. were swept by the Red Wings. Abe and Irene Pollin, the longtime owners of the Capitals and NBA's Bullets/Wizards, had to learn how to handle losing.

    ''My husband and I had developed a habit of when we lost, we would go to eat frozen custard to help us deal with the loss,'' Irene Pollin recalled.

    There were a lot of chances for custard: Teams leading 3-1 in a best-of-seven series have won 91 percent of the time (276-28). Of those 28, the Capitals have blown such a lead five times - the most of any team.

    Winning just one game against the expansion Golden Knights already made this the most successful season in the history of a franchise that began in 1974-75. It was, by the way, the worst first-year team in NHL history (8-67-5) that developed into a team known for postseason failures - which only worsened in the Alex Ovechkin era.

    For many of the players who have been through it all, the strong showing against Vegas is long overdue.

    ''I'm part of history. I'm part of not winning a Cup here for a long time,'' said longtime scoring winger Peter Bondra, who played for the Capitals from 1990-2004.

    ''I don't even play, but I feel like a part of this team, believe it or not. It's just something in it. Obviously, I play here for 14 years, I grew up here with the team as a player, my family grew up here. Seeing this would be amazing if it happens.''

    It's almost amazing this team even exists. After missing the playoffs in their first eight seasons, there was a ''Save the Caps'' campaign in 1982 just to keep them around and in Washington.

    ''We couldn't sell tickets,'' said Irene Pollin, now 93. ''We went to Montreal to fight for the franchise, So for three days and three nights we were up and I was in a nightgown typing letters to the president and everybody to have them send letters to the league because they kept saying, `Washington is a southern city, it'll never be a hockey town.'''

    Abe Pollin that summer hired Poile as his general manager. When the 33-year-old executive asked for a three-year contract, Pollin agreed but only after telling Poile he'd better do well in the first season or the franchise might fold.

    Less than two weeks later, Poile changed the course of the franchise by acquiring eventual Hall of Fame defenseman Rod Langway. Washington made the playoffs in all 13 seasons with Poile in charge but couldn't break through.

    ''We had to play against some of the great teams ever in the NHL: We had to go against the Islanders who won four straight, the Rangers were always on the border, Pittsburgh when Mario (Lemieux) came in,'' said Langway, who played 11 seasons for the Capitals. ''We challenged them, we competed with them, but we couldn't get over the hump.''

    That became the Capitals' unwelcome hallmark. Plenty of times an improbable play ended a promising run, whether it was the Rangers' Pierre Larouche beating Pete Peeters from a sharp angle in 1986 or Lafontaine's shot through traffic for the Game 7 winner a year later early on Easter morning at the Capital Centre in nearby Landover, Maryland.

    ''To me, that is sort of what happened, the epitome of what has happened to this franchise,'' said winger-turned-broadcaster Craig Laughlin, who came to Washington in the Langway trade and never left. ''We didn't get those type of bounces. It seemed like every other team did but we didn't.''

    That continued to Tikkanen in 1998 and into the ''Rock the Red'' era with Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. They lost in overtime of Game 7 in 2008 on a Flyers power play, in 2009 on home ice when the Penguins blew them out, in 2010 when Canadiens goaltender Jaroslav Halak stopped 41 of 42 shots in Game 7, in 2012 when a high-sticking double-minor penalty put them down 3-2 to the Rangers, and in 2017 when they had no response in a explicable Game 7 loss to - of course - the Penguins.

    ''That's one of the things that you'll look back on, that I'll look back on, is which years I think that we had a legitimate chance and it just didn't go our way and the years that we just didn't deserve it,'' said defenseman Karl Alzner, who was a first-round pick of the Capitals, became a core player for six first- or second-round exits and left in free agency last offseason. ''We had bad matchups and injuries at bad times.''

    Just like in 2010, when Washington looked unstoppable, the 2016 and 2017 teams won the Presidents' Trophy as the best team in the regular season. But this year was supposed to be a step-back season and the third consecutive division title was a bit of a surprise. The Capitals fell behind Columbus 2-0 in the first round, but them something seemed different when the puck pinballed off a defender and Eller and in to win Game 3.

    ''Usually that Eller goal would've been the opposition scoring on us and it would've been devastating and they'd be up 3-0 and we'd lose the series,'' said Laughlin, now a TV color commentator who along with team President Dick Patrick is among the longest-lasting members of the organization. ''That started the kind of change around and turnaround, exactly that goal, because that just doesn't happen with the Capitals in the playoffs.''

    Many expected the NHL's biggest surprise this season, Vegas, to continue its amazing run in its first year. Instead, the seemingly charmed Golden Knights have struggled against the rugged Capitals.

    Langway is already beaming with pride and said he has felt the same from fellow alumni. Alzner is happy for friends, but there is a tinge of sadness, too.

    ''I've seen how it's all kind of gone down and tweaking with the team and trying to figure out the right mix,'' Alzner said. ''You helped build the foundation a bit, but without actually getting your name on the Cup and the ring and stuff, it's a bit empty.''

    Long-suffering Capitals fans have celebrated on the steps of the National Portrait Gallery and filled the rink for viewing parties of road playoff games. Knowing what they have been through and wanting the best for coach Barry Trotz and others, Poile hopes Washington can finish at the top - the standard he set as the target more than 35 years ago.

    ''Finally. With us being part of the Caps for 15 years, I'm really happy for them,'' Poile said. ''End of the story is they get the greatest chance ever right now being one game away from winning the Cup.''
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    Capitals win the Stanley Cup
    June 7, 2018

    LAS VEGAS (AP) Alex Ovechkin put both hands to his head and screamed while he left the bench and skated into the thick of the Washington Capitals' joyous celebration.

    And right before Ovechkin hoisted the Stanley Cup, the Washington captain put both hands on his head again in a gesture of disbelieving ecstasy.

    You can believe it, Ovi. So can the Washington fans whose championship drought is finally over.

    After striving through 13 of his franchise's 43 seasons, the Russian superstar and the long-suffering Capitals are sitting on top of hockey for the very first time.

    ''It doesn't matter what happened before,'' Ovechkin said through his gap-toothed grin. ''We just won it.''

    Lars Eller scored the tiebreaking goal with 7:37 to play, and the Capitals claimed their first NHL title with a 4-3 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday night in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final.

    Ovechkin capped his playoff MVP campaign with an early power-play goal, and Devante Smith-Pelly tied it with a full-stretch goal midway through the final period of the Capitals' fourth consecutive victory over the Golden Knights.

    ''We did it,'' said Ovechkin, whose 15 playoff goals set a franchise record. ''That's all that matters. Look at the smiles on my teammates. This is something you'll never forget. This moment, I'll remember for the rest of my life. I'm so happy. It's unbelievable.''

    Vegas' incredible expansion season finally ended, and so did the Capitals' wait for a title since their debut in 1974. But after so many years of crushing disappointment for a team with a lengthy history of postseason failure, these Caps confidently won their fourth consecutive closeout game with a tenacious third-period comeback in Vegas.

    Ovechkin and his teammates are Washington's first championship hockey team - and their city's first champion in a major pro sport since the Redskins won the Super Bowl in early 1992.

    ''It doesn't come easy,'' said goalie Braden Holtby, who made 28 saves while outplaying three-time Stanley Cup champion Marc-Andre Fleury in the opposite net one final time. ''It took years. Years of heartbreak. Years of breaking things down and trying again, breaking things down and trying again, and this group never gave up. And we finally did it.''

    After Ovechkin accepted the Conn Smythe Trophy, he received the Cup from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. Ovechkin shouted ''Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!'' before skating away and hoisting the prize over his head for a victory lap in front of thousands of red-clad fans.

    When a succession of teammates finally got the Cup back to Ovi, he handed it to Ted Leonsis, the Caps' owner since 1999.

    ''I'm so happy for the group that has gone through the misery,'' said Washington coach Barry Trotz, a first-time champ in his 19th season behind an NHL bench and a potential free agent without a contract for next season.

    The Caps couldn't win a Cup without a little late weirdness, however: The game clock stopped working on the T-Mobile Arena scoreboards during the final minutes, and the Capitals angrily protested while they played on. Vegas never got close to a tying goal despite both teams getting an extra chance to rest while the officials checked on the timing. The clock finally hit zeros, allowing the Caps to storm the ice behind their net for a frenzied celebration.

    Reilly Smith scored a go-ahead goal late in the second period for the Golden Knights, who won seven of their first eight home playoff games before dropping the last two.

    ''When you get this close to the Cup, it's hard,'' Fleury said. ''Doesn't happen too often. It's very disappointing.''

    The defeat ended the storybook inaugural season of the Golden Knights, who became the NHL's 31st franchise last fall and immediately launched into arguably the greatest debut in modern pro sports history. Few expected the division title they delivered, and fewer still thought Vegas could challenge for a championship.

    Nate Schmidt and David Perron also scored deflection goals for Vegas in the second period, but Fleury's 29 saves included a stopped puck that dropped underneath him where Eller could sweep it home for the Cup-winning goal.

    ''It means everything,'' Eller said. ''You couldn't write the story better. If you're going to win on the road, I couldn't imagine a better place to do it.''

    Forward T.J. Oshie spent a moment in the celebration looking up for his father, Tim, who he said was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

    ''He doesn't remember a lot of stuff, but he's going to remember this,'' Oshie said. ''I've never seen a team come together like we did here. I've never seen the commitment from start to finish like we had here.''

    Washington's win was its 10th on the road in this postseason, tying the NHL playoff record and illustrating the superior toughness of this team. While past editions of the Caps created their team's reputation for postseason flops in part by losing five playoff series in which they had won three of the first four games, Ovechkin's latest group promptly closed out all four of its series this year on the very first try.

    The Caps also came back from series deficits in all four rounds and clinched all four series on the road.

    The remarkable Golden Knights hadn't lost four consecutive games in their entire inaugural season before the Caps rolled them.

    ''It's going to be a tough couple days,'' Vegas defenseman Deryk Engelland said. ''You never want it to end like this.''

    The Capitals had thousands of fans in the Vegas crowd and a building full of supporters watching back home along with countless thousands outside in the crowded D.C. streets. They got a barn-burner of a finale befitting this thrilling series, with wild shifts of momentum before that bizarre clock incident that didn't appear to affect the outcome much.

    The Capitals' triumph also adds another chapter to a stretch of sweet relief for long-suffering, loyal sports fans across North America. The NFL's Philadelphia Eagles won their first Super Bowl in February, and baseball's Houston Astros won their first World Series last November.

    First-time titles are all the rage, and Ovechkin and the Caps have paid their dues for this one.

    Ovechkin, who turns 33 later this year, has been among the most exciting and productive players in his sport since joining the Caps in 2005. Yet for all of his goal-scoring prowess and athletic swagger, the Great Eight had never won an Olympic gold medal or a Stanley Cup title.

    But after becoming the fifth player in the last quarter-century to score at least 15 goals in a postseason, Ovechkin is a champion at last. He also became the first Russian captain to raise the Cup in NHL history.

    The title is also validation for Holtby, who has spent his entire NHL career in Washington. After several seasons of being measured unfavorably against Fleury and other goaltending greats despite his 2016 Vezina Trophy, the Saskatchewan native also has his long-sought ring - and his unbelievable stick save on Alex Tuch in Game 2 will ring forever in Caps history.

    Ovechkin put the Caps up 2-1 in the crazy second period of Game 5 when he set up in his customary spot in the left faceoff circle and put Nicklas Backstrom's cross-ice pass into a sliver of open net. But after Perron tied it with a deflection goal while falling into Holtby's net, Smith scored into an open net after Ovechkin went to the penalty box for tripping.

    Washington pressed early in the third, but didn't connect until Brooks Orpik flung the puck at the net against the run of play. Smith-Pelly barely controlled the puck and stretched out to fling it toward the net while falling face-forward, and it slipped inside Fleury's post for the veteran forward's seventh goal of the postseason - matching his total from the entire regular season.

    ''I've been dreaming about it since I was a little kid,'' Smith-Pelly said. ''The team, with so much change, you didn't know what to expect. We knew we could do something special, and we did.''

    Moments later, the Knights struggled to keep up with the Caps' puck movement and left Brett Connolly open for a shot. Fleury stopped it, but the puck fell to the ice underneath him - and Eller fought off Luca Sbisa and slapped the puck into the net for the game winner.

    NOTES: Washington is the 19th active franchise to win the Stanley Cup. The Caps were tied for the fifth-longest active Cup drought with Philadelphia, which won it in 1974. ... Ovechkin has 26 points in 26 potential series-clinching games in his career. ... The Knights made two lineup changes from Game 4, inserting Perron and William Carrier while scratching Ryan Reaves and Ryan Carpenter. Carrier hadn't played since the second round against San Jose, while Perron was a healthy scratch for only one game. ... The Knights scored eight goals in their four consecutive losses.
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    Kuznetsov and Holtby display value
    June 7, 2018

    LAS VEGAS (AP) Alex Ovechkin finally got to hoist the Stanley Cup. And then he raised the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the Stanley Cup Final.

    Fellow Russian linemate Evgeny Kuznetsov and goaltender Braden Holtby certainly did some heavy lifting of their own.

    In helping deliver a championship Washington had wanted for more than 40 years, Kuznetsov was arguably the Capitals' most instrumental player. The 26-year-old, fifth-year pro finished with a playoff-leading 32 points, including his 20th assist in Thursday night's series-clinching 4-3 win over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 5.

    ''He was unbelievable,'' Ovechkin said of Kuznetsov. ''He makes the magic over there.''

    Holtby, overshadowed coming into the Final, bested three-time Stanley Cup champion goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. He not only allowed the Golden Knights just eight goals over the last four games, but won in Vegas twice.

    Holtby is now 45-37 in 82 career playoff appearances - all with the Capitals - while compiling a 2.04 goals-against average, .929 save percentage and six shutouts. That is the second-highest save percentage and fifth-best GAA in NHL postseason history among goaltenders with at least 50 outings.

    Washington coach Barry Trotz said it took losing the No. 1 role to Philipp Grubauer late in the regular season and the start of the postseason for Holtby to rediscover the foundation of his game he developed in Saskatchewan.

    ''Just like all great goaltenders, you go through some dry spells in your game where you lose your way a little bit and your foundation,'' Trotz said. ''We had a conversation and he was very respectful. He understood that he wasn't going to start in the playoffs. And he said, `If I get a chance to go back in, I'm gonna be really good for you.' And he was.''

    His unbelievable stick save on Alex Tuch to lock up a win in Game 2 will ring forever in Caps history.

    ''I think any big play is going to be a turning point,'' Holtby said humbly. ''It was a big play in the game, but the credit really goes to our guys because we didn't get complacent. We knew we could do something special and we did.''

    With Ovechkin, Kuznetsov and Holtby leading the charge, Washington wasn't about to blow another 3-1 lead, an unwelcome feature of its postseason past. Prior to this season, the Capitals had lost five series when leading 3-1, the most in the NHL.

    After losing Game 1, the Capitals won four straight to win the Cup, outscoring the Golden Knights 16-8 along the way. For the series, Kuznetsov scored one goal and assisted on seven others, including Jakub Vrana's goal that opened the scoring for the Capitals in Game 5.

    ''Kuz is a great player, he's a really, really talented player,'' Vrana said. ''He can be the difference every game. He's just unbelievable.''

    While Trotz acknowledged Ovechkin's play and how much he's meant to the franchise, he said Kuznetsov single-handedly took over games for the Capitals and proved to be just as valuable during their championship run.

    So much so, he wasn't sure who was going to be named MVP of the Final.

    ''That was a toss-up for me, I thought they were neck and neck if you ask me who gets the Conn Smythe, I thought that's gonna be a tough choice,'' Trotz said. ''You probably have to split that in half for me.''

    Trotz said Kuznetsov is just scratching the surface, and the rest of the league is starting to find just how good he is.

    Kuznetsov, who finished the regular season with 27 goals and 56 assists, scored 12 goals and had 20 assists in the postseason. He was instrumental in Washington's 6-2 demolition of the Golden Knights in Game 4, when he registered four assists to tie a single-game Stanley Cup Final record.

    ''Since Day 1 of training camp, we really play for each other, we work for each other and we really try to help the young guys, older guys - it doesn't matter,'' Kuznetsov said. ''We just play for your partner and we compete every day.''
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    Column: Script flips on magical season for the Knights
    June 8, 2018

    LAS VEGAS (AP) Their story had been too good, their season way too magical.

    Then the script was suddenly flipped. And the storybook ending the Vegas Golden Knights had desperately hoped for became a story of another kind for the Washington Capitals.

    Two goals in the third period gave the Caps their first Stanley Cup title, ending 43 years of futility and sending a surprisingly large contingent of red-clad Washington fans into a frenzy. They stood and cheered as the Caps passed the Stanley Cup around, enjoying a scene that up to now no Las Vegas tourist had ever imagined.

    A few minutes earlier, thousands of Knights fans were on their feet cheering for their team. The game was over, but ''Go Knights Go'' reverberated through the arena on the Las Vegas Strip.

    Both teams had something to celebrate. But only Washington would be drinking out of the Stanley Cup.

    ''When you get this close to the cup it's hard,'' Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said. ''It doesn't happen too often. It's very disappointing.''

    An inaugural season like no other ended on a bittersweet note for an expansion team like no other. The first major sports team in this gambling city bucked the odds until the end, but in the end this was Washington's championship to win.

    It was the Caps who won every playoff series coming from behind. It was the Caps who found a way to win in the third period when things seemed to be going the Knights way.

    ''We got angry and mean,'' Washington coach Barry Trotz said. ''Even when they got an extra timeout when the clock broke our guys were like, we got this. There's not a chance they will score.''

    It was the Knights, though, who bonded with a city and thrilled fans who before October began knew little more about hockey than it was the fastest game on ice.

    They played into June, this collection of Golden Misfits, something no one could have imagined for a team that barely had any players a year ago. The temperature outside was close to 100 degrees for Game 5 but hockey worked in the desert and it worked in a city where you don't have to go far to place a bet on the team.

    And the bet is that this is a franchise that won't have to wait 43 years to raise a Stanley Cup of its own.

    ''We came up short but I'm sure in a few days we'll come up with a lot of positives about the season,'' defenseman Deryk Engelland said. ''Right now it's the worst feeling ever. You never want to lose any game, but especially at this point.''

    A season that began somberly in the wake of the massacre of 58 people just down the street from the T-Mobile Arena ended 102 games later with a community continuing to heal and a team that far exceeded expectations on and off the ice.

    It was Engelland who stood before the crowd at the first home game and told them, ''We are Vegas strong,'' a message that carried over on the ice. The Knights won their division, and were 12-3 in the playoffs coming into the Final, confounding the hockey experts at every turn.

    When they won the first game of the series it looked like the tale of an expansion team and its city would soar to new levels. But the Caps came back to win four straight, including the 4-3 win that capped off their own improbable run.

    ''No one gave us a chance from the start,'' said forward David Perron. ''I thought when I got picked in the draft that Vegas would be a fun place to be but the team wouldn't do much. It's been a great ride.''

    While the Capitals were enjoying a lengthy postgame celebration on the ice, the Knights filtered through a somber locker room, talking softly about great times and a painful ending. On the verge of doing something historic, they lost their way and the price to pay for it was another team passing the Cup around on their ice.

    ''It was a phenomenal year and in a couple days we'll think about that,'' Knights coach Gerard Gallant said. ''Every day was fun for us.''

    A magical season, yes. But it also won't be long before the reality sinks in that teams just don't get to the Stanley Cup Final every year.

    All the Knights had to do was look at the team celebrating on the ice to understand that.
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