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Capitals taking inspiration from Nationals victory in World Series

Celebration reminds them of Stanley Cup party, builds excitement for another championship

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / Staff Writer

ARLINGTON, Va. -- For a few moments Wednesday, the Washington Capitals were transported back to June 7, 2018, when they celebrated their first championship after a 4-3 victory against the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

But this time, the Capitals were at a restaurant here watching the Washington Nationals celebrate their first World Series championship after a 6-2 win against the Houston Astros in Game 7. Together for a team Halloween party, the Capitals sprayed champagne, danced and sang Queen's "We Are the Champions" -- a celebration captain Alex Ovechkin streamed live on Instagram -- while the Nationals did similar on a grander scale in the visiting clubhouse at Minute Maid Park.

Tweet from @Capitals: YOU LOVE TO SEE IT! @Nationals #ALLCAPS // #STAYINTHEFIGHT

"We know them a little bit, we know some of the guys, but just a cool feeling all around to watch them go through it and the song and the champagne," forward Tom Wilson said. "I guess we thought we were back there too, spraying the champagne, but we're really happy for them."

The Capitals supported the Nationals throughout their postseason run, with Ovechkin throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 4 of the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers and the team handing out a Nationals batting helmet to their player of the game after each win this season. The Nationals similarly rooted on the Capitals throughout their Stanley Cup run, and outfielder Adam Eaton was among their players Wednesday to credit the Capitals for providing inspiration.

Video: Ovechkin throws out first pitch at Nationals Park

Watching the Nationals reminded the Capitals of how much fun they had in 2018 and how much they'd like to do it again after losing to the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference First Round last season.

"I feel like I know what they're talking about because now that they've done it and they've won, now I feel like I've gotten inspiration from them to try to go back and do it again," forward T.J. Oshie said. "When you see a team come together, the winning, obviously that's the end goal, right? But when you see a team that does it the right way and does it as a full group, as a player and someone's that's been through that, you get goose bumps and you miss that feeling and you want that feeling back."

Instagram from @jc7474: Congrats to the Nationals. You made DC PROUD!!!!

There's a long way to go in the NHL season, but the Capitals (9-2-3) are off to strong start. Despite an imposing schedule that has included nine road games and five at home, Washington set its record with a League-high 21 points in October, surpassing its previous high of 19 in 2009-10, and equaled its October record of nine wins, set in 1991-92.

The Capitals have an opportunity to build on that with a November schedule that includes nine of their 14 games at Capital One Arena, beginning against the Buffalo Sabres on Friday (7 p.m. ET; SN, NBCSWA, MSG-B, NHL.TV).

Their play at home, where they are 2-1-2, is among the areas they are looking to improve.

"We're in the middle of the process, not even the middle, but if you were to look at this at the start of the season, I think numberswise you'd be happy with where we're at standingswise," Capitals coach Todd Reirden said. "That being said, we evaluate ourselves on what we're doing right and wrong and making sure we're properly looking at things from that perspective.

"But it was a very busy and difficult month, and [we're] happy to be where we are right now."

Before the Capitals' Stanley Cup win, the city hadn't celebrated a major sports championship since the Washington Redskins won the Super Bowl following the 1991 NFL season. In the past month, the Washington Mystics won the WNBA title and the Nationals won the World Series, making the Capitals feel like they're next up.

"We know firsthand what it means to those guys, especially [because] they've had a lot of adversity for the last decade or so," goalie Braden Holtby said of the Nationals. "A great group of guys, professional guys, and it gives you kind of shivers because they earned it as a team."

Video: NYR@WSH: Scherzer puts twist on ceremonial puck drop

With most of the Nationals watching from a private suite, pitcher Max Scherzer dropped a baseball for a ceremonial face-off before the Capitals' most recent home game, against the New York Rangers on Oct. 18. The Capitals will honor the Nationals prior to their game against the Calgary Flames on Sunday.

Oshie said he hopes at least some of the Capitals can make it to the Nationals' championship parade Saturday. Oshie already has offered his celebration advice by posting on Twitter a list of fountains in the Washington area.

Tweet from @TJOshie77: What an impressive run by these @Nationals. You could tell they had something special in that clubhouse. Congrats fellas! According to yelp here���s some fountains if you want to keep the tradition alive. #WorldChampions #FightFinished

The Capitals earned their reputation as legendary celebrators by frolicking in fountains in the Georgetown section of Washington after attending a Nationals game earlier in the day, two days after their Cup win.

"That's according to Yelp, so if I left anyone's fountain out I apologize," Oshie said. "But I'm sure those guys are going to have a good time, and if they happen to jump in a fountain, I hope I get the call."

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