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Stanley Cup Final

Capitals, Golden Knights fans party before Game 1 of Stanley Cup Final

Flock to T-Mobile Arena for festivities

by Danny Webster / NHL.com Correspondent

LAS VEGAS -- It was 92 degrees at 2 p.m. PT, one of the hottest days of the year, three hours before the Vegas Golden Knights hosted the Washington Capitals in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Toshiba Plaza, the outdoor concourse in front of T-Mobile Arena, was packed by 3 p.m.

A mix of fans in gray and white Golden Knights jerseys, and even some in Capitals red, gathered to watch the first game of the improbable Cup Final featuring a team nearing the end of its inaugural season.

 

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

 

The contrast in how long the fanbases have waited to get to the Stanley Cup is staggering: 20 years for the Capitals, 235 days for the Golden Knights.

Video: Vegas fans bring the noise before Game 1 of Cup Final

"We were talking a month ago, and we were like, 'If they end up making the Cup [Final], and they go to Vegas, we're going to go,'" said Mary Patton, a Capitals fan who traveled with her husband, Jason, from Baltimore.

Mary and Jason were part of a handful of Capitals fans who took in the festivities prior to the doors opening at T-Mobile Arena. A paintbrush tattoo station, face and hair painters, and a cornhole toss were among some of the activities.

Not to be outdone, however, was a three-song performance by Grammy Award-winning hip-hop artist and noted Golden Knights fan Lil Jon.

That entertainment element has turned Vegas into one of the unique hockey markets, Jason said.

"I didn't know what to expect," he said of his first visit to Las Vegas. "I knew it was a party town, so I figured it'd be a lot of pomp and circumstance."

Brothers Brennan and Derek Wright, along with their father Sheldon and cousin Denise, are Las Vegas natives visiting from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to watch their hometown team.

"It's not supposed to have sunk in," Derek said. "But it has, because we're here from New Mexico and they're four wins away from winning the Stanley Cup."

Denise said the bond between the city and the Golden Knights since the mass shooting Oct. 1 outside Mandalay Bay that killed 58 people, has been incredible. If the Golden Knights are to win the Stanley Cup, there "will be 58 angels watching over them," she said.

"The way they've given back to the city and the city giving back to them, they've all helped heal for a common cause," Denise said. "It's been amazing. And to see everyone out here for something that seemed impossible once, it's incredible."

 

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