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Stanley Cup Final

Ovechkin wins Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP with Capitals

Forward helped Washington to first Stanley Cup championship

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

LAS VEGAS -- Alex Ovechkin won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the Stanley Cup Playoffs after the Washington Capitals defeated the Vegas Golden Knights 4-3 in Game 5 of the Final at T-Mobile Arena on Thursday.

The Capitals won the Stanley Cup for the first time since entering the NHL in 1974.

"I think it is just like a dream," said Ovechkin, who got 13 first-place votes and five second-place votes in balloting by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association . "It was a hard, long season. We fought through it. We worked so hard through all the years. ... It was the whole team, stick to the system, we didn't panic. ... We just had to push it and get the result done."

The 32-year-old forward had 27 points (15 goals, 12 assists) in 24 playoff games, including five points (three goals, two assists) during the Cup Final.

 

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"He really stepped up," Capitals forward Jay Beagle said. "He's always played unreal in the playoffs but he was unreal this year. Defensive side of the puck, doing all the right things, huge blocked shot here in the third, he was just sacrificing everything to win this."

Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov was second in the voting, receving five first-place votes and 13 second-place votes. Washington goaltender Braden Holtby received 17 third-place votes; Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury got the other one.

Ovechkin led the playoffs with 15 goals, one more than Winnipeg Jets forward Mark Scheifele, and set a Capitals record for most in a postseason, breaking a tie with John Druce (1990). Ovechkin was second in points behind linemate Evgeny Kuznetsov, who had 32 (12 goals, 20 assists).

Ovechkin, who had one point in each Cup Final game, is the second Russia-born player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy; forward Evgeni Malkin won it with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009. Ovechkin is the first Russia-born captain of a Stanley Cup-winning team.

Video: WSH@VGK, Gm5: Ovechkin receives Conn Smythe Trophy

This was the first time in Ovechkin's 13-season NHL career that he advanced beyond the second round of the postseason. His previous high for points in a playoff year was 21 (11 goals, 10 assists) in 14 games in 2009.

"He came in and he realized the League has changed and he changed as well," Capitals goalie Braden Holtby said. "He's been amazing for us. And he's just like the rest of us. We follow him because he knows one player doesn't make a team. If we were going to win this year, we needed every single person, and it started with him."

Winning the Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe capped a milestone-filled rebound season for Ovechkin.

After dipping to 33 goals in 2016-17, his lowest total in a full NHL season since he scored 32 in 2010-11, Ovechkin led the NHL with 49 goals to win the Rocket Richard Trophy for the seventh time. He scored twice against the Jets on March 12 to become the 20th player in NHL history to score 600 goals and the fourth to do so in fewer than 1,000 games (990), joining Wayne Gretzky (718), Mario Lemieux (719) and Brett Hull (900).

Ovechkin played his 1,000th NHL game at Pittsburgh on April 1, the first Capitals player to reach that milestone.

Video: Ovechkin's journey to his first Conn Smythe Trophy

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