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Ovechkin, Capitals return favor by supporting Nationals' World Series run

Forward says he's 'lucky charm' who kicked off baseball team's streak by throwing out first pitch

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / Staff Writer

ARLINGTON, Va. -- The Washington Capitals remember the support they received from the Washington Nationals during their run to winning the Stanley Cup in 2018 and have been excited to give it back this fall.

The Nationals advanced to the World Series for the first time with a 7-4 victory against the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series on Tuesday.

"It's great," Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin said Wednesday. "Happy for the team, for the boys and for the city. They fight hard and I hope they're going to win it all."

Ovechkin did not attend the Nationals' series-clinching win Tuesday because the Capitals have a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Capital One Arena on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET; SN1, TVAS, NBCSWA, NHL.TV). But since Ovechkin threw out the first pitch before Game 4 of the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Oct. 7, the Nationals have won six straight games.

Tweet from @ovi8: maybe I should come to LA ?? )))) go @Nationals !!

"Yeah, I put on Instagram, they have to bring me all the time," Ovechkin said. "So I'm a lucky charm."

The Nationals will open the World Series against the American League Championship Series winner, either Houston Astros or the New York Yankees, on the road Oct. 22. They will host Games 3 and 4 and, potentially, Game 5 on Oct. 25, 26, and 27 when the Capitals are on the road. 

So the Capitals will have to catch what they can of the World Series on television.

"We're going to watch it on TV for sure," Ovechkin said. "And we're going to give our energy to the team and hope they're going to do it."

The Nationals similarly were supportive when the Capitals won the Stanley Cup. Pitcher Max Scherzer and first baseman Ryan Zimmerman donned hockey gear to lead the Capital One Arena crowd in a "Let's go Caps!' chant before Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Vegas Golden Knights. 

The Capitals have shown their support by presenting a Nationals batting helmet to their player of the game after each win this season. They plan to change eventually to a hard hat, but they've been having fun passing the batting helmet around and being Washington sports fans in what has been a magical October in the city.

The Washington Mystics won their first WNBA championship Oct. 10.

"It's fun to share the times in DC together," said Capitals forward Tom Wilson, who attended the beginning of the Nationals' Game 4 win Tuesday before heading home early to get rest before playing the Maple Leafs. "It's a pretty cool time to be a sports fan in DC and we're just a tiny part of it, but we're taking a back seat, we're supporting them."

The Capitals' Stanley Cup win was Washington's first major sports championship since the Washington Redskins won Super Bowl XXVI in January 1992. Now Ovechkin is predicting the Nationals will continue Washington's championship resurgence by defeating the Astros or Yankees in five games.

"We'll see in a couple weeks," Ovechkin said. "We're going to cheer for them and wish them luck."

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