Halfway Home: Washington Capitals are two wins from the Stanley Cup

The Washington Capitals defeated the Las Vegas Golden Knights 3-1 in game three of the Stanley Cup Final. Washington holds a two to one game advantage over Las Vegas, who had not lost consecutive games in the playoffs before dropping the last two.

Alex Ovechkin, the Capitals’ captain and superstar left wing, scored the game’s first goal near the start of the second period. He expertly played a rebound off the net and made a diving shot off one leg as he reached past an encroaching Vegas defenseman. A few minutes later, Washington center Evgeny Kuznetsov launched a line drive into the back of the net to make it two to nothing Washington.

Although Vegas left wing Tomas Nosek scored in the third to make it a one goal game, the Knights were largely dominated throughout the contest. Vegas seems to have lost its focus, failing to bounce back following a stunning collapse in game two. The young team still seems stunned and is lacking its signature ferocity.

As the saying goes: “Hard work always pays off.” But for Ovechkin—who had failed to reach a conference finals in his first 13 seasons—it seemed as though his individual accolades and remarkable talent would be overshadowed in the history books by his lack of postseason success.

But this season represents a stark departure from past failures in the way that the Caps have responded to and overcome adversity through each round. They defeated the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins, whom Washington was 1-9 against in previous series. They defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning in the conference final after blowing a two games to none lead and being one game away from elimination.

The Stanley Cup Final is decided just as much by emotion as much as it is by skill. This current iteration of the Capitals possesses a never-say-die mentality that is necessary to win at the NHL’s highest level, especially after a grueling 82 game season and several hard fought previous rounds.

Standing two wins away from the Capitals’ first championship in team history, Ovechkin and the Caps know just how much is at stake. Washington D.C., in spite of its distinction as a top 10 market in the country, has endured decades of sports mediocrity. The city has not won a professional sports championship since the Redskins won the 1992 Super Bowl.

With the Capitals so close to the precipice, Washington fans are finally getting a little taste of how sweet winning can be. It will be exciting to see if Ovechkin and company are able to take a commanding three to one lead, or if the Golden Knights will be able to tie up the series.