After missing the playoffs during his first two seasons in the NHL, Alex Ovechkin helped lead the Washington Capitals to the postseason in nine of the next 10 years. Despite having teams built to go deep, the Capitals were first-rounded three times and eliminated in the second round six times, including consecutive losses to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016 and 2017. Washington won the Presidents’ Trophy as regular-season champions both years. The Ovi Era, much like the Dale Hunter Era, felt hopeless and destined to go Stanley Cup-less.
But all that heartbreak, frustration, and pain was ultimately rewarded on June 7, 2018. The Capitals, buoyed by huge performances by their stars Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Braden Holtby, and John Carlson, finally got over the hump.
During Game Five of the Stanley Cup Final, Washington got big goals from their supporting cast including Jakub Vrana (opening goal of the game), Devante Smith-Pelly (GTW), and Lars Eller (GWG) to defeat the Vegas Golden Knights 4-3 and win its first championship in franchise history. Ovi went buckwild on the bench. Vegas Golden Knights GM George McPhee, who drafted Ovechkin and built the core of the team, was on the losing end for Vegas.
For many fans and supporters like myself, it was worth the wait.