Skip to main content
Stanley Cup Final

How Capitals won Stanley Cup

Washington earned first championship with series wins against Blue Jackets, Penguins, Lightning, Golden Knights

by David Satriano @davidsatriano / NHL.com Staff Writer

The Washington Capitals won their first Stanley Cup championship with a 4-3 victory against the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final on Thursday.

Washington defeated two Metropolitan Division rivals en route to the Cup. They rallied after losing the first two games of the Eastern Conference First Round at home against the Columbus Blue Jackets to win that series in six games. They finally ousted the Pittsburgh Penguins, who had defeated them seven straight times in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, in six games in the second round. Washington then defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games in the Eastern Conference Final, including back-to-back shutouts in Games 6 and 7.

 

[RELATED: Complete Golden Knights vs. Capitals series coverage | Capitals Championship Gear]

 

Here's a look at the Capitals' road to the Stanley Cup:

April 12: Game 1, Eastern Conference First Round, Capital One Arena: Blue Jackets 4, Capitals 3 (OT)

Evgeny Kuznetsov scored two power-play goals late in the first period to give Washington a 2-0 lead, but Columbus responded with goals by Alexander Wennberg and Thomas Vanek to tie the game in the third. Devante Smith-Pelly gave the Capitals a 3-2 lead at 5:12 of the third but Seth Jones scored to tie it at 3-3 with less than five minutes remaining. Artemi Panarin's goal at 6:02 of overtime gave the Blue Jackets a come-from-behind win and a 1-0 lead in the series.

Video: CBJ@WSH, Gm1: Panarin goes top shelf for OT win

 

April 15: Game 2, Eastern Conference First Round, Capital One Arena: Blue Jackets 5, Capitals 4 (OT)

The Capitals again took a 2-0 lead on goals by Jay Beagle and Alex Ovechkin in the first period, but again were unable to hold the lead. Cam Atkinson's goal at 18:25 of the first made it 2-1 before Ovechkin's power-play goal at 4:09 of the second gave Washington a 3-1 lead. Columbus then scored three times in the second, including twice on the power play, for a 4-3 lead. T.J. Oshie's power-play goal with 3:35 remaining in the third tied it at 4-4, but Matt Calvert won it for Columbus at 12:22 of overtime.

Video: CBJ@WSH, Gm2: Ovechkin pots one-timer for second PPG

 

April 17: Game 3, Eastern Conference First Round, Nationwide Arena: Capitals 3, Blue Jackets 2 (2OT)

The Capitals had a 2-1 lead after the first period on goals from Tom Wilson and John Carlson, but Panarin's goal at 4:12 of the third tied the game at 2-2. Lars Eller scored at 9:00 of the second overtime to give Washington its first win and Braden Holtby made 33 saves in his first start of the series.

Video: WSH@CBJ, Gm3: Eller wins it in double overtime

 

April 19: Game 4, Eastern Conference First Round, Nationwide Arena: Capitals 4, Blue Jackets 1

Wilson opened the scoring for the second straight game 6:16 into the first period and Oshie made it 2-0 with a power-play goal at 9:19 of the second. Ovechkin's third goal of the playoffs came 2:49 into the third for a 3-0 lead. Boone Jenner scored in the third to get Columbus within 3-1, but Kuznetsov's goal with 2:19 left sealed the win for the Capitals, who evened the series at 2-2 after losing the first two games at home.

Video: WSH@CBJ, Gm4: Holtby sticks out pad to rob Werenski

 

April 21: Game 5, Eastern Conference First Round, Capital One Arena: Capitals 4, Blue Jackets 3 (OT)

Washington won its third straight game of the series when Nicklas Backstrom scored his second goal of the game at 11:53 of overtime. He scored to make it 1-1 in the first after Calvert's shorthanded goal gave Columbus a 1-0 lead minutes earlier. The Capitals led 3-2 after the second on goals from Kuznetsov and Oshie until Oliver Bjorkstrand scored 2:30 into the third period for a 3-3 tie. Holtby made 39 saves for his third straight win.

Video: CBJ@WSH, Gm5: Oshie redirects Carlson's blast for PPG

 

April 23: Game 6, Eastern Conference First Round, Nationwide Arena: Capitals 6, Blue Jackets 3

The Capitals won their first-round series with their third straight road win and fourth straight overall. Ovechkin scored twice in the second period to turn a 1-1 tie into a 3-1 lead, including a power-play goal with 1:37 remaining. Pierre-Luc Dubois scored at 2:25 of the third to get the Blue Jackets to within 3-2 but Smith-Pelly responded 1:31 later to make it 4-2. Chandler Stephenson's shorthanded goal at 5:30 made it 5-2 and deflated any chance of a comeback by Columbus. After Nick Foligno's second goal of the game made it 5-3 at 8:22, Eller's empty-net goal with 14 seconds left sealed the win and the series.

Video: WSH@CBJ, Gm6: Ovechkin backhands in rebound

 

April 26: Game 1, Eastern Conference Second Round, Capital One Arena: Penguins 3, Capitals 2

The Capitals faced the Penguins in the second round for the third straight year and got off to a fast start when Kuznetsov scored 17 seconds into the game for a 1-0 lead. Ovechkin's goal 28 seconds into the third made it 2-0 but Patric Hornqvist and Sidney Crosby scored in a span of 2:21 to tie the game at 2-2. Jake Guentzel's goal at 7:48 of the third made it 3-2 and ended up being the game-winner to give the Penguins a 1-0 series lead.

Video: PIT@WSH, Gm1: Crosby pots bouncing puck to tie game

 

April 29: Game 2, Eastern Conference Second Round, Capital One Arena: Capitals 4, Penguins 1

Washington again got off to a fast start when Ovechkin scored 1:26 into the first for a 1-0 lead. Rookie Jakub Vrana scored a power-play goal at 14:54 for a 2-0 lead. Brett Connolly made it 3-0 at 2:08 of the second before the Penguins scored their first of the game from Kris Letang at 13:04. The Penguins pressured Holtby (32 saves) all game long, including 16 shots in the second period, but were unable to convert after Letang's goal. Backstrom's empty-net goal with seven seconds left made it 4-1 and helped Washington tie the series.

Video: PIT@WSH, Gm2: Vrana beats Murray for slick PPG

 

May 1: Game 3, Eastern Conference Second Round, PPG Paints Arena: Capitals 4, Penguins 3

Carlson scored 48 seconds into the second period for a 1-0 lead, but Guentzel and Hornqvist scored 2:16 apart to put the Penguins ahead 2-1. Stephenson tied it at 2-2 at 11:04 of the second before Crosby gave the Penguins a 3-2 lead at 16:27. Washington trailed entering the third but Matt Niskanen's goal at 5:06 tied the game before Ovechkin's eighth of the playoffs with 1:07 remaining gave the Capitals the victory. 

Video: WSH@PIT, Gm3: Stephenson ties it off pass from Oshie

 

May 3: Game 4, Eastern Conference Second Round, PPG Paints Arena: Penguins 3, Capitals 1

The Penguins scored two power-play goals, including one by Evgeni Malkin with 2:29 remaining in the second period that turned out to be the game-winner. Guentzel scored twice, including the first goal at 9:21 of the opening period before Oshie made it 1-1 with a power-play goal 3:34 later. Malkin made it 2-1 before Guentzel's empty-net power-play goal with 58 seconds left made it 3-1.

Video: WSH@PIT, Gm4: Guentzel hits the empty net for PPG

 

May 5: Game 5, Eastern Conference Second Round, Capital One Arena: Capitals 6, Penguins 3

In a back-and-forth game that saw three lead changes, the Penguins led 1-0 on a goal by Jamie Oleksiak at 2:23 of the first before Carlson and Connolly scored 33 seconds apart in the final two minutes of the period for a 2-1 lead. Crosby and Hornqvist each scored a power-play goal in the second for a 3-2 Penguins lead before the Capitals scored four times on 14 shots in the third. Kuznetsov tied the game at 3-3 52 seconds in before Vrana gave Washington a 4-3 lead at 15:22. Oshie and Eller scored empty-net goals and Washington took a 3-2 series lead.

Video: PIT@WSH, Gm5: Vrana slams home go-ahead tally

 

May 7: Game 6, Eastern Conference Second Round, PPG Paints Arena: Capitals 2, Penguins 1 (OT)

Alex Chiasson's first goal of the playoffs gave Washington a 1-0 lead at 2:13 of the second period. Letang scored at 11:52 to tie it at 1-1. After neither team scored in the third, the game went to overtime and Kuznetsov clinched the series for Washington at 5:27 when he took a pass from Ovechkin, split the defense and beat Matt Murray five-hole. The Capitals advanced to the Eastern Conference Final for the first time since 1998.

Video: WSH@PIT, Gm6: Kuznetsov ends series with OT winner

 

May 11: Game 1, Eastern Conference Final, Amalie Arena: Capitals 4, Lightning 2

Michal Kempny's first NHL playoff goal gave Washington a 1-0 lead at 7:28 of the first before Ovechkin's power-play goal with six seconds remaining in the period made it 2-0. The Capitals jumped out to a 4-0 lead on second-period goals by Beagle and Eller. The Lightning made it interesting with goals by Steven Stamkos and Ondrej Palat in the first seven minutes of the third period to make it 4-2, but that's as close as they would get and Washington took a 1-0 series lead. 

Video: WSH@TBL, Gm1: Beagle slips puck past Vasilevskiy

 

May 13: Game 2, Eastern Conference Final, Amalie Arena: Capitals 6, Lightning 2

For the third time in the playoffs, Wilson opened the scoring, this time 28 seconds in. Brayden Point and Stamkos each scored a power-play goal to give the Lightning a 2-1 lead after the first period. After Smith-Pelly tied it at 2-2 2:50 into the second, Eller and Kuznetsov scored in the final 1:02 of the period for a 4-2 Capitals lead. Ovechkin and Connolly scored in the third to make it 6-2 and Holtby made 33 saves. Washington took a 2-0 series lead and improved to 7-1 on the road in the playoffs.

Video: WSH@TBL, Gm2: Holtby stones Point twice in front

 

May 15: Game 3, Eastern Conference Final, Capital One Arena: Lightning 4, Capitals 2

The Lightning struck first with Stamkos scoring at 13:53 of the opening period for a 1-0 lead. Nikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman scored in the first 3:37 of the second for a 3-0 lead. Connolly's goal at 10:31 made it 3-1, but Point scored at 16:03 and Tampa Bay regained its three-goal lead. Kuznetsov scored with 3:02 remaining to make it 4-2. Hedman had a goal and two assists, and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 36 saves for Tampa Bay.

Video: TBL@WSH, Gm3: Point finds room on the short side

 

May 17: Game 4, Eastern Conference Final, Capital One Arena: Lightning 4, Capitals 2

Dmitry Orlov's goal 4:28 into the first period gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead, but Point and Stamkos scored in a span of 2:54 to put Tampa Bay ahead. Kuznetsov tied it 2-2 at 5:18 of the second period. Alex Killorn scored the go-ahead goal for the Lightning at 11:57 of the third and Anthony Cirelli scored an empty-net goal with two seconds remaining to make it 4-2. Vasilevskiy made 36 saves to help Tampa Bay even the series at 2-2.

Video: TBL@WSH, Gm4: Holtby stones Johnson's point-blank try

 

May 19: Game 5, Eastern Conference Final, Amalie Arena: Lightning 3, Capitals 2

Cedric Paquette scored for Tampa Bay 19 seconds in for a 1-0 lead. Palat scored at 9:04 of the first and Ryan Callahan scored 33 seconds into the second period to make it 3-0. The Capitals battled back with goals by Kuznetsov (4:21 of the second period) and Ovechkin (18:24 of the third) but were unable to tie it, thanks in part to Vasilevskiy making 24 saves in the second and third periods. Washington lost its third straight game to fall behind 3-2 in the series.

Video: WSH@TBL, Gm5: Palat wires wrister past Holtby

 

May 21: Game 6, Eastern Conference Final, Capital One Arena: Capitals 3, Lightning 0

In a must-win game, Washington took a 1-0 lead late in the second period and never trailed. Oshie scored, twice, including at 15:12 of the second before Smith-Pelly made it 2-0 at 10:02 of the second. Holtby made 24 saves for his first shutout of the season, regular season included, and Oshie scored an empty-net goal at 19:10 of the third to force a Game 7.

Video: TBL@WSH, Gm6: Holtby posts 24-save shutout in Game 6

 

May 23: Game 7, Eastern Conference Final, Amalie Arena: Capitals 4, Lightning 0

Ovechkin scored what turned out to be the winning goal 1:02 into the first period. Washington got two goals from Andre Burakovsky in the second, and Backstrom scored late in the third to make it 4-0. Holtby made 29 saves for his second consecutive shutout and improved his shutout streak to 159:27. Washington advanced to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1998, when they were swept by the Detroit Red Wings.

Video: WSH@TBL, Gm7: Caps celebrate win, exchange handshakes

 

May 28: Game 1, Stanley Cup Final, T-Mobile Arena: Golden Knights 6, Capitals 4

In a game that featured four lead changes, the Golden Knights struck first and took at 1-0 lead 7:15 into the first period before the Capitals scored twice in 42 seconds on goals by Connolly and Backstrom for a 2-1 lead. William Karlsson's goal with 1:41 left in the first period tied the game at 2-2 and the teams traded second period goals. Wilson's goal 70 seconds into the third gave Washington a 4-3 lead, but Vegas responded with three straight goals, including the game-winner by Tomas Nosek at 9:44. Nosek scored an empty-net goal with three seconds left to seal the win.

Video: WSH@VGK, Gm1: Nosek nets Theodore's perfect feed

 

May 30: Game 2, Stanley Cup Final, T-Mobile Arena: Capitals 3, Golden Knights 2

The Golden Knights scored first at 7:58 of the opening period on a goal by James Neal, but Eller tied it at 1-1 with 2:33 remaining. Ovechkin's power-play goal and Brooks Orpik's first goal in 220 games (playoffs included) gave Washington a 3-1 lead before Shea Theodore scored at 17:47 to make it 3-2. The Capitals killed 1:08 of a 5-on-3 in the third and Holtby made a lunging stick save on Alex Tuch with 1:59 remaining to preserve the lead for Washington, which won the first Stanley Cup Final game in its history.

Video: WSH@VGK, Gm2: Ovechkin buries PPG on nice setup

 

June 2: Game 3, Stanley Cup Final, Capital One Arena: Capitals 3, Golden Knights 1

After neither team scored in the first period, Ovechkin's 14th goal of the playoffs gave Washington a 1-0 lead 1:10 into the second. Kuznetsov, who left Game 2 with an injury, extended the lead to 2-0 in the second period. Vegas made it 2-1 when Nosek scored off a turnover by Holtby in front of the net 3:29 into the third. However, Washington regained its two-goal lead when Beagle won a battle at the boards and found Smith-Pelly in the slot at 13:53 to make it 3-1 and give the Capitals a 2-1 series lead.

Video: VGK@WSH, Gm3: Holtby thwarts Vegas on power play

 

June 4: Game 4, Stanley Cup Final, Capital One Arena: Capitals 6, Golden Knights 2

Washington got first-period goals from Oshie, Wilson and Smith-Pelly to take a 3-0 lead. Carlson made it 4-0 in the second before Neal and Reilly Smith scored for Vegas to make it 4-2. Kempny made it 5-2 with 6:21 remaining and Connolly scored with 1:09 left for a 6-2 lead. Kuznetsov had four assists to move the Capitals within one game of the Cup.

Video: VGK@WSH, Gm4: Capitals strike for three goals in 1st

 

June 7: Game 5, Stanley Cup Final, T-Mobile Arena: Capitals 3, Golden Knights 2

After neither team scored in the first period, Vrana gave Washington a 1-0 lead at 6:24 of the second before Nate Schmidt made it 1-1 at 9:40. Ovechkin scored his 15th of the playoffs setting a Capitals record for a single postseason, on the power play at 10:14 for a 2-1 lead. David Perron and Smith scored to give Vegas a 3-2 lead after two. Smith-Pelly scored for the third straight game at 9:52 of the third to tie the game at 3-3 before Eller's goal at 12:23 turned out to be the game winner and series winner for Washington. Ovechkin was named winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

Video: WSH@VGK, Gm5: Walton rejoices for Caps' first Cup win

View More

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.