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Stanley Cup

Capitals joined by Nationals in Stanley Cup party

Ovechkin throws first pitch to start day at ballpark; teammates bask in glow of first title

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- Showing no signs of slowing down, the Washington Capitals' Stanley Cup celebration continued at Nationals Park on Saturday. 

The Capitals and the Stanley Cup were the Washington Nationals' guests for their 7-5 win against the San Francisco Giants, visiting them in their clubhouse beforehand and cheering them on from a private suite down the third base line.

 

[RELATED: Ovechkin tosses strike on second try at ceremonial first pitch]

 

The Capitals have been the toast of the city since winning the Stanley Cup for the first time in their 43-season history by defeating the Vegas Golden Knights 4-3 in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final in Las Vegas on Thursday. 

After flying home Friday, they spent the night with the Stanley Cup at a private rooftop party at Don Tito, a restaurant in Arlington, Virginia.

They arrived at Nationals Park at 11:25 a.m. Saturday for the 12:05 p.m. game appearing tired but enthusiastic to continue the party. The reality that they won the Stanley Cup was still sinking in.

"You can see it right now," forward Alex Ovechkin said. "I still can't believe it. I think no one still can believe like we did, and we are right now Stanley Cup champions. But it's great, I think. Something you will never forget."

Ovechkin, the Conn Smythe Trophy winner after leading the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a Capitals-record 15 goals, had the honor of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch Saturday. The Washington captain's first attempt sailed over pitcher Max Scherzer's head to the backstop.

Video: Capitals celebrate Stanley Cup win at Nationals Park

So, he asked for a second try and did much better, floating the ball into Scherzer's glove. 

"It was hard, but I think I did a nice job, a good job," Ovechkin said.

Scherzer was one of the Capitals' biggest supporters throughout their Stanley Cup run. He and Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman revved up the Capital One Arena crowd before Game 4 of the Cup Final on Monday, donning Capitals jerseys, gloves and helmets and holding sticks, leading a "Let's go Caps!" chant.

"For this team and this city to be able to do that, the way they played the whole playoffs, we were all following it as much as we could," Scherzer said. "It's awesome."

Scherzer and Zimmerman also had a chance to see the Stanley Cup up close on Monday. They were excited to see it again in possession of the Capitals on Saturday.

"Just the history and tradition of that trophy, it's easily the best trophy in all of sports," Zimmerman said. 

The Capitals have been having fun with it. They took turns holding it up throughout the game Saturday with fans, many ignoring what the Nationals and Giants were doing on the field, cheering them on. 

After the singing of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the seventh-inning stretch, Queen's "We are the Champions" blared from the Nationals Park sound system. The Capitals, who sang that song in their locker room after the game Thursday, got up and sang along with the crowd.

They are enjoying the benefits of bringing Washington its first major professional sports championship since the Redskins won the Super Bowl at the end the 1991 NFL season. 

"It's great for the city. It's great for our team and the sport of hockey," defenseman John Carlson said. "I thought it was really cool when we were even at home that everyone was outside [Capital One Arena] and going nuts and they would show that [on the video scoreboard inside the arena] right after we would score a goal. I think that was probably one of the coolest moments of the playoffs for me. And just seeing the support, and even last game in Vegas, there was the most road fans I've ever seen in any other game in my career. 

"It was pretty cool to see. I think we deserve it and so do the fans."

Capitals coach Barry Trotz exchanged texts with Nationals manager Dave Martinez, but they had never met before Saturday. Trotz addressed the Nationals before they took the field, telling them he hopes the Capitals' championship will lead to more for the city, including a World Series title.

"We wanted to bring some positive energy to them and we're behind them," Trotz said. "Their players have been behind us, and our players will have their back and they enjoy the Nats. … We wish them all a great season and we'll see them in the playoffs, and hopefully a World Series for the District."

The Capitals' celebration with culminate with a parade down Constitution Avenue to the National Mall, beginning at 11 a.m. ET on Tuesday.

"It's going to be amazing," center Nicklas Backstrom said. "I've been dreaming about this since I started playing here and driving down Constitution [on the way to] every game, and it always popped into my head that one time we're going to have a parade here and, finally, that day is here."

Photos courtesy of Patrick McDermott/Washington Capitals

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