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Stanley Cup Final

Capitals will play Golden Knights in Stanley Cup Final

Defeat Lightning in seven games, win Eastern Conference for first time since 1998

by David Satriano @davidsatriano / Staff Writer

The Washington Capitals advanced to the Stanley Cup Final and will play the Vegas Golden Knights.

The Capitals defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-0 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final on Wednesday.

"I'm just happy for my boys, for the organization, for the fans, finally," Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin told NBCSN. "I can't wait to come back home and play at home in the Stanley Cup Final. It's going to be nuts over there."


[RELATED: Complete Golden Knights vs. Capitals series coverage | Stanley Cup Final schedule]


The Golden Knights defeated the Winnipeg Jets in five games to win the Western Conference Final. That best-of-7 series ended Sunday.

"Right now, our team, everybody plays their best," Vegas forward Jonathan Marchessault said. "... Everybody is on point. Everybody has a taste of it too. We want more. How could we be satisfied with what we did right now?"

Video: WSH@TBL, Gm7: Holtby, Ovechkin on going to Cup Final

Vegas, which had four points more than Washington this regular season (109-105), has home-ice advantage and will host Game 1 at T-Mobile Arena on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS).

"It's going to be a wild ride in Vegas," Washington forward Tom Wilson said. "That's going to be a heck of a show and we're looking forward to a pretty historic final here."

It's the second time the Capitals have advanced to the Stanley Cup Final. They were swept by the Detroit Red Wings in 1998.

The Capitals lost the two games to the Golden Knights this season, 3-0 on the road Dec. 23 and 4-3 at home Feb. 4. Matt Niskanen, Nicklas Backstrom and Chandler Stephenson scored for Washington, and Braden Holtby (3.00 GAA, .893 save percentage) and Philipp Grubauer (4.10 GAA, .871 save percentage) each started one game.

Reilly Smith and Alex Tuch each had two goals and an assist, and Marchessault had three assists for the Golden Knights. Marc-Andre Fleury had a .939 save percentage and one shutout winning the two games.

"Obviously their goalie's playing great and they work together," Washington defenseman John Carlson said of Vegas. "They work together really well and kind of attack you with five guys. Kind of like the last three teams we faced. It's going to be a tall task, but I have confidence and faith in this group and what we're capable of."

The Golden Knights are the third team to advance to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural NHL season, joining the Toronto Arenas (1918) and St. Louis Blues (1968). Vegas is the sixth team to reach the Cup Final in its first postseason appearance, joining the Arenas, Blues, Montreal Maroons (1926), Boston Bruins (1927) and Florida Panthers (1996).

Vegas defeated the Los Angeles Kings in four games and the San Jose Sharks in six games before eliminating Winnipeg.

Video: How Vegas achieved the impossible in their first year

Marchessault leads the Golden Knights with 18 points (eight goals, 10 assists) in 15 playoff games. Linemates Smith (16 points; four goals, 12 assists) and William Karlsson (13 points; six goals, seven assists) are second and third. Fleury is 12-3 with a 1.68 goals-against average and .947 save percentage, which is the best in NHL history for a goalie with at least 12 games played in a single postseason.

"I think we deserve it," Karlsson said. "We beat three great teams to get to this spot. No one believed in us. Now they're saying it was unfair and things like that. I think we deserve to be here, and all the fans, the city, deserve to be here."

Washington defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins each in six games.

"Every series is tough," Ovechkin said. "We're just playing our game, stick to the system, and we deserve to win."

Capitals forward Evgeny Kuznetsov leads the playoffs with 24 points (11 goals, 13 assists) and Ovechkin is second (22 points; 12 goals, 10 assists). Holtby is 12-6 with a 2.04 GAA and .924 save percentage since taking over from Philipp Grubauer in Game 2 of the first round.

"They're going to be a tough test," Washington forward T.J. Oshie said. "I think we're going to be a tough test as well. I personally can't wait to get there and play head to head." staff writer Tracey Myers contributed to this report.


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