LAS VEGAS -- The Washington Capitals are one victory away from winning the Stanley Cup, a goal forward Alex Ovechkin has been working toward for 13 NHL seasons.
Being on the verge of the Capitals' first championship in their 43-season history could be overwhelming emotionally, but Ovechkin said he is trying not to get distracted from the task at hand, which is getting another win against the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS).
"Most of us have never been in this position," the Washington captain said Wednesday. "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."
What kind of different things is Ovechkin focusing on?
"Whatever," he said. "Cars. Hotels. You know, Vegas."
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Las Vegas is a good place to take your mind off work, but don't expect the Capitals to be out on the town Wednesday night. Most of them will remain at their hotel, as coach Barry Trotz put it last week, "caving up" to avoid the city's distractions.
Trotz said he'll probably do some work and watch Game 3 of the NBA Finals. Ovechkin said he plans to "chill."
"What else can you do?" Ovechkin asked.
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Leading the best-of-7 series 3-1 after winning the past three games, the Capitals have Washington in a frenzy in anticipation of celebrating the city's first major sports championship since the Washington Redskins won the Super Bowl at the end of the 1991 NFL season. Being on the road at least gets the Capitals away from the talk about parades and celebration plans back home.
Ovechkin said they haven't won anything yet.
"I don't know why people start talking about it," he said. "We're still one win away from that. It's going to be the hardest one. We just have to get it done, and then we're going to talk about all the different stuff."
Ovechkin and the Capitals have been good at maintaining their focus throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and they've been particularly good at it on the road, where they are 9-3. That includes a 3-2 victory against Vegas in Game 2.
With one more road win, Washington would match the NHL record for most road victories in a playoff year shared by the 1995 New Jersey Devils (10-1), 2000 Devils (10-2), 2004 Calgary Flames (10-4) and 2012 Los Angeles Kings (10-1). All but the 2004 Flames won the Stanley Cup.
The Capitals closed out their first three series in these playoffs on the road: a 6-3 win in Game 6 at the Columbus Blue Jackets, a 2-1 overtime win in Game 6 at the Pittsburgh Penguins, and a 4-0 win in Game 7 at the Tampa Bay Lightning. But this is the first time they'll play a game knowing the Stanley Cup will be in the building and they can win it with a victory.
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"We don't think about it too much," Ovechkin said. "I think we just concentrate on the next game. When it's going to be done, yeah, we're going to talk about all the different stuff, how good it is or whatever. But right now, we're just focusing on one game and the first shift, then the second shift and all that kind of stuff."
Ovechkin is one of the main reasons the Capitals have gotten this far. If they win the Stanley Cup, he and linemate Evgeny Kuznetsov, along with goaltender Braden Holtby, will be the likely favorites to win the Conn Smythe Trophy, awarded to the playoff MVP.
Ovechkin is tied with Mark Scheifele of the Winnipeg Jets for most goals in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with 14. That also ties the Capitals record for most goals in a postseason, set by John Druce in 1990.
His 26 playoff points (14 goals, 12 assists) are second in the League behind Kuznetsov's Washington-record 31 (12 goals, 19 assists).
But Ovechkin has led the Capitals to this point with more than just production. He's set the tone with his physicality -- his 79 hits rank third in the playoffs behind teammates Tom Wilson (94) and Brook Orpik (83) -- and commitment to playing a 200-foot game.
He's done his part positionally in the neutral zone, like the rest of the Capitals in their 1-1-3 system, and he's sacrificed his body to block shots in the defensive zone. He has four blocked shots in the Stanley Cup Final, tying him with teammates T.J. Oshie and Devante Smith-Pelly for the most among forwards.
Concentrating on doing all those necessary little things in Game 5 is probably ahead of thinking about cars and hotels on Ovechkin's to do list for Thursday. That's also the best way to deal with whatever pressure Washington might feel to finish off Vegas on its first attempt.
"There's pressure on both teams the same way," Ovechkin said. "We just have to manage it. We have to be concentrated and we have to play our best to get it done."
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