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WASHINGTON (AP) Nine early playoff exits paved the way for
the Capitals‘ unexpected Stanley Cup run and made the trip down Constitution
Avenue all the more satisfying to the NHL champions and their fans.Alex Ovechkin
and Nicklas Backstrom rode the final bus down the mile-long parade
route Authentic
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, lifting the Cup to roaring cheers and
waving to seas of red in the crowd.Five days after capturing the franchise’s
first title and the first of any kind by a Washington team in the major four
professional sports since 1992, this was their day to soak in winning following
so much disappointment.”Because we waited so long, I think it feels even
better,” Backstrom said.Hundreds of thousands of fans lined Constitution and
filled the National Mall on Tuesday to celebrate a long journey fulfilled. One
fan held up a sign reading, ”Worth the Wait,” but before the end of the rally,
T.J. Oshie already had the crowd thinking about next season.”There’s been a lot
of chants,” Oshie said. ”There’s been, ”Let’s Go Caps,” there’s been, ”We Want
the Cup.” We’ve heard in the streets, ”We’ve got the Cup.” We’ve got a new one
for you today – ”Back-to-back.”The serious work of getting geared up for the
2018-19 season begins in the coming days and weeks with decisions on coach Barry
Trotz, defenseman John Carlson and other free agents. But for players such as
Ovechkin and Backstrom who have been through eliminations at the hands of the
Penguins, Rangers, Lightning, Canadiens and Flyers dating to 2008, the partying
leading up to the parade isn’t close to ending.”It just started,” Backstrom
said.Much like the Capitals did over the weekend by taking the Cup to local bars
and restaurants, the parade was a chance to celebrate with a fan base that had
to endure 42 seasons without a Cup.Fans congregated on the National Mall hours
before the parade began, filled the steps of the National Archives and lined up
20 deep in some areas to catch a glimpse of players riding more than three dozen
buses from 23rd Street to 7th.”Look at this – look at the people that’s here”
Ovechkin said. ”We thought it was going to be crazy, but it’s basically nuts.
You guys are killing it.”Ovechkin, Backstrom Morgan
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, veteran Brooks Orpik, owner Ted Leonsis and team
president Dick Patrick took up the most prominent place in the parade on the
last bus with the Stanley Cup. Chants of ”Ovi! Ovi!” alternated with pleas of
”Raise the Cup!” which Ovechkin, Backstrom and Orpik did off and on while
sipping from beer bottles.Trotz threw beads from his double-decker bus, but the
pending free agent coach saved potentially his most meaningful impact of the day
for his speech at the rally.”I know our years of adversity has sort of came to
an end,” Trotz said. ”We did this together and it feels so special. Love this,
love the community. We’re going to do it again.”There’s no certainty about Trotz
unless he signs a new contract, but the Capitals should have much of their core
intact as they try to complete the difficult task of repeating. Before rival
Pittsburgh went back-to-back in 2016 and 2017, no team had done it since Detroit
in 1997 and 1998.Of course, that didn’t stop players from bringing it up to the
delight of the crowd that stretched down the Mall almost to the Washington
Monument.”I couldn’t see the end of people from the stage,” winger Tom Wilson
said. ”It’s unbelievable to give back the least we could and just celebrate with
them.”Beyond the scripted – two high school marching bands, an F-16 flyover,
Budweiser Clydesdales and past greats such as Olie Kolzig and Peter Bondra –
backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer sprinted around with the D.C. flag, Oshie
chugged a beer through his jersey and Ovechkin and fellow Russian Evgeny
Kuznetsov dropped F-bombs on stage.Trotz invoked Martin Luther King Jr. by
saying, ”We had a dream, and we did it.” Leonsis quoted John F. Kennedy’s ”Ask
Not” speech. Wilson brought it back to the title by shouting, ”Everybody says
what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but we brought the Cup home!”By the end of
the sun-soaked rally, Capitals players swayed together and sang Queen’s ”We Are
the Champions,” a song they’ve been belting out renditions of with varying
sobriety over the past few days.”It’s been a long time since we had a
championship here in this city,” Backstrom said. ”To be able to after all these
years to bring it, it’s great. It’s a sports city. There’s not another city that
deserves a championship more than D.C.”—More Stanley Cup coverage:
https://apnews.com/tag/StanleyCupFinals— VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP)
Defenseman Derrick Pouliot snapped a 1-1 tie with his third goal of the season
early in the third period and the Vancouver Canucks defeated the Edmonton Oilers
2-1 Thursday night for their third consecutive win.Sam Gagner also scored for
the Canucks Womens
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, who have won four of their past five
games.Connor McDavid scored for the Oilers, who have lost two in a row. Edmonton
is 3-2-1 in its past six games.Pouliot gave Vancouver the lead just 2 minutes
into the third period. Nikolay Goldobin fed the Canucks defenseman a pass from
along the boards. Pouliot skated in on Oilers goalie Cam Talbot, make a deke
then scored his first goal in 42 games.Leon Draisaitl had a chance to tie the
game on an Oilers power play late in the third, but his shot hit the post. Ryan
Strome’s slap shot also hit the post after a Canucks giveaway with just over two
minutes remaining.McDavid’s goal was his 41st of the season, giving him an
NHL-leading 103 points, leaving him six ahead of Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov.
McDavid trails Washington’s Alex Ovechkin by four goals in the race for the
Rocket Richard Trophy.Vancouver goaltender Jacob Markstrom stopped 35 shots.
He’s 4-0-0 in his past four starts. Talbot made 28 saves for the
Oilers.Markstrom kept the Canucks in the game with some big stops, including
getting a pad on Milan Lucic’s shot in the first period.”For me right now it’s
just a carry-over from the feeling I had in the previous games,” Markstrom said.
”I just keep building on it.”McDavid showed some of his magic on the game’s
opening goal at 11:33 of the first period. After defenseman Andrej Sekera
flipped a puck down the ice, McDavid showed his speed by skating around Gagner
then muscled defenseman Michael Del Zotto off the puck. He scored on a shot that
hit Markstrom’s blocker, went off the post, and into the net.Gagner was also
battling the flu Thursday.”When you get stuck on the ice with him (McDavid) it’s
not funny even when you are feeling 100 percent,” Gagner said. ”Obviously he’s
special.”The Oilers captain has 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in his
past six games.Gagner earned some redemption by tying the game at 15:14 of the
second. Daniel Sedin took a shot from the faceoff circle that Talbot stopped.
Gagner, alone at the side of the net, put in the rebound for his third goal in
four games.”You never want to be a culprit on a goal-against,” Gagner said. ”It
was a tough one there. I thought the guys battled back really well. It’s a nice
feeling.”Adam Gaudette, the former Northeastern University Husky who recently
signed with Vancouver after leading the NCAA with 30 goals and 60 points, played
his first NHL game. On his opening shift, he sent a sizzling shot just wide of
the Oilers net.NOTES: Gaudette is a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award as the
best player in NCAA hockey. … Henrik Sedin’s opening shift of the game was the
30,000th of his career. … Brendan Gaunce returned to the Canucks lineup after
missing 24 games with a foot injury. … With several Canucks down with the flu,
Jake Virtanen was a late scratch. … The game’s first penalty came at 12:33 of
the second period when Vancouver’s Darren Archibald was called for interference.
… Al Montoya dressed as the Oilers backup goaltender after missing two games
with an injury.UP NEXT:Oilers: Travel to Calgary on Saturday night.Canucks: Host
Columbus on Saturday.—
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