Capitals Defeat Golden Knights, 4-3, to Snap 44-Year Title Drought
“The Capitals have won it. The capital of the country is the capital of the hockey playoffs!” – Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick
“At the beginning of the year, I said we’re not going to be second. We’re going to win the Stanley Cup. That’s all that matters.” – Alex Ovechkin to Pierre McGuire
“The guy is one of the greatest players of all-time – not just of my era, of all-time, period.” – P.K. Subban on Alex Ovechkin
STAMFORD, Conn. – June 7, 2018 – NBC Sports’ exclusive coverage of the Stanley Cup Final concluded tonight in historic fashion on NBC, as the Washington Capitals won the Stanley Cup and snapped a 44-year title drought by defeating the Vegas Golden Knights, 4-3, in Game 5 from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Six-time Emmy Award-winning play-by-play commentator Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick, U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame member and analyst Eddie Olczyk, and Emmy Award-winning ‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst Pierre McGuire had the call from Washington. This marked the 12th consecutive year that Emrick, Olczyk and McGuire combined to call the Stanley Cup Final for NBC Sports.
Pre-game coverage began on NBCSN at 6 p.m. ET with a two-hour edition of NHL Live. Host Liam McHugh anchored pre-game, intermission and post-game coverage on-site, alongside analyst and former player Keith Jones, as well as Nashville Predators defenseman and 2013 Norris Trophy winner P.K. Subban, who served as a guest analyst for pre-game and intermission coverage throughout the evening.
In addition, Kathryn Tappen and Paul Burmeister hosted pre-game and post-game coverage from outside sets in Las Vegas, capturing the scene amongst the fans alongside analysts and former players Jeremy Roenick, Brian Boucher, and Anson Carter.
NHL Live included:
A pre-game interview with Willie O’Ree, the first African-American player to compete in the NHL;
Roenick reaching a top speed of 165 miles per hour at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway and later drives off with Vegas’ Jonathan Marchessault’s team-themed Lamborghini;
A feature on the career arch of Alex Ovechkin;
Boucher’s pre-game interview with Vegas’ William Karlsson and McGuire’s pre-game interview with Ovechkin;
A segment and interview with Carnell Johnson, known as Golden Pipes, the Golden Knights’ anthem performer, who is also a Gondolier at the Venetian;
A segment on ‘Vegas Strong,’ which detailed the impact the Golden Knights have had on the community and the city’s first responders;
And a look at the tradition of the Stanley Cup.
Coverage shifted inside the arena at 7:30 p.m. ET with McHugh, Subban and Jones. Panic! at the Disco performed ahead of Game 5 on a stage amidst the fountains at Bellagio. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman joined McHugh and Subban on-set during the first intermission (transcript below).
Emrick on Washington winning the Stanley Cup Final: “The Capitals have won it. The capital of the country is the capital of the hockey playoffs! The Washington Capitals for the first time in their 44-year history are the Stanley Cup champions.”
Emrick on the Capitals’ 44-year drought: “A tremendous moment of triumph for the Washington Capitals and their fans, and some of whom recall the very first year when they won eight games in total and one away from home.”
Ovechkin to McGuire on winning the Cup: “It’s just unbelievable. I don’t know what to say, it’s just unbelievable. I’m the happiest guy. I’m so happy for my teammates, for our fans watching back in Washington, D.C., the guys who have played here, my fans, my family, all of my friends, all of my second family, it’s unbelievable.
“At the beginning of the year, I said we’re not going to be second. We’re going to win the Stanley Cup. That’s all that matters. We won. It doesn’t matter how we play or what happened before. We just won it.”
Bettman to Capitals’ fans: “You’ve had years of frustration, but here is the grandest celebration. You get to hoist the Stanley Cup.”
Emrick on Ovechkin: “What a celebration for Alexander Ovechkin.”
Emrick on congratulating Vegas on its inaugural success: “To congratulate these Vegas Golden Knights on a magnificent season, not only as hockey players, but as citizens of a community and as spokespeople of all the good that hockey can do.”
Olczyk added: “What an incredible year for the Vegas Golden Knights … this city, this state, it’s their home team, and they accepted this team and this sport with open arms.”
Jones on how Washington found a way to win the Cup: “A year when you didn’t think the Capitals were going to be as good, they find a way to get the job done.”
Boucher on Ovechkin’s legacy: “This is an exclamation point on his career. This is still one of the greatest goal-scorers that we’ll ever see in our lifetime.”
Emrick on the bevy of shots in the early minutes: “Fire-wagon action here early!”
Emrick on Holtby and Fleury: “The goaltenders have been magnificent here in the first two-and-a-half minutes of period three.”
McGuire on Lars Eller’s go-ahead goal: “Go back to Game 3 of the Columbus series. They went in double-overtime, (and) that’s the man that provided double-overtime magic.”
Emrick added: “Lars Eller, in the middle of the night in Denmark, has broken the tie.”
Jones on Vegas’ success in the second period: “Call it hockey gods, call it puck luck, call it effort and getting some breaks, because that’s exactly what’s working for Vegas right now.”
Subban on Ovechkin’s emotion and energy through two periods: “When a player brings that type of emotion, that type of skill, and brings it all together in a big game like this, it’s very tough to control. You just try to contain the guy.”
Jones on Barry Trotz’s message to his team: “Save your best speech for now, don’t wait for the next game. Whatever you got, Barry, get these guys to focus on getting the next goal and winning the Stanley Cup tonight. You don’t want two days to think about it. You don’t want the thoughts to come to the back of the head. You want to take care of business tonight.”
Emrick on Washington potentially winning the Cup: “Forty-four years, 43 seasons, only one appearance in the Final, no championships. Maybe it changes later tonight? Maybe.”
McGuire on Ovechkin’s goal: “That is just so surgical, so precise and so athletic. And look at that man. That elevates a city, that elevates a team, and that gets your guys unbelievably motivated to go hard.”
Added Olczyk: “That puck landed like a bird with sore feet. That thing landed so softly. Beautiful pass.”
Bettman on the success of the Golden Knights: “We believed that this would be a great market not unlike Nashville, where P.K. plays. The fans support here, corporate support has been incredible. We never worried about the success of the team off the ice. On the ice, the goal was to make them competitive, and I guess we were successful.”
Bettman on how he envisioned Vegas becoming a success: “Actually, one of the people in my public relations department showed me a quote from 2006, when we talked about the fact that the first team that gets to Vegas, the first league, would be successful. These players – and you know this as well as anyone (Subban) – play with emotion. And the combination of every night somebody was playing against the team that let them go, and in the wake of the tragedy on October 1, this city and this team really bound together. And I think on some level, particularly emotionally, the players were playing for a higher purpose – healing and community.”
Bettman on responding to fans’ criticism of Vegas’ early success: “You know what, our competitive balance shows anything is possible. Colorado improves by 47 points this year, goes from last in the league, (and) makes the playoffs. The Devils, last in the East, make the playoffs. If you’re passionate about your team, you have hopes for every season.”
Bettman on what Washington’s success this postseason means to the NHL: “Look at the fan base in Washington and how the city has come together. You showed the picture of the gathering outside for the viewing party. We’ve had a great playoffs and it’s been incredibly exciting and it’s been great for the fans.”
Pre-Game on NBC (8 p.m. ET)
Emrick’s introduction to T-Mobile Arena: “Inside Bedlam.”
Subban on Ovechkin’s career: “I think throughout his career, he hasn’t gotten his due, he hasn’t gotten the credit he deserves. The guy is one of the greatest players of all-time – not just of my era, of all-time, period. Whether you like him or not, he’s one of the greatest of all-time. I have no doubt in my mind he’s going to show up and be one of the best players on the ice tonight.”
Subban on Vegas’ Nate Schmidt’s defense: “We talk about Norris Trophy winners in the league all the time, but this guy has played like one all of the time in the playoffs.”
Subban on Fleury: “He’s won championships, he’s won Cups, and he’s the backbone of this hockey club. I expect him to be the best player on the ice tonight.”
NHL Live on NBCSN (6 – 8 p.m. ET)
Carter on who deserves the Conn Smythe award: “(Evgeny) Kuznetsov is the guy who is driving this bus.”
Roenick added: “I can’t disagree with you right there. He’s been the most impressive, to me, night in and night out. He’s carried this team offensively. But when it comes down to superstars and having clout in the National Hockey League and what guys have done and what they need to do to solidify and cement their legacy in the NHL, I cannot see them not giving it to Alex Ovechkin … It’s the way that he has played, has transformed his game and the way that he has elevated his captaincy to drag everyone in to play the game that they’ve played to allow them to get here. I cannot see the NHL not giving it to Ovechkin tonight.”
Jones on Washington clinching the series tonight: “They want to close this thing out. There’s been a history of failure in Washington D.C. You don’t want doubt to creep in.”
O’Ree on the NHL establishing an award in his honor: “I was thrilled, I was speechless. But I’m very honored and happy for the participants, especially for the participant who is going to be awarded the award.
O’Ree on what he wants the award recipient to embody: “Just have character, set goals for themselves, (and have) not only hockey skills but life skills.”
Jones on the difference between this Capitals team from others: “In the past, the Capitals have not performed well when pressure has gone against them. This season has been different. There’s a different feeling to the Capitals this season and there has been throughout the playoffs. They’ve faced a ton of adversity, they’re in the driver’s seat now, let’s see how they handle it.”
Roenick on Vegas’ William Karlsson: “William Karlsson is very, very quiet in these playoffs. It’s time for him to make a statement tonight if the Golden Knights are going to keep their season going.”
Boucher on ‘Vegas Strong’ and the team’s impact on the community: “They have enjoyed watching their Vegas Golden Knights. You take such a negative, down moment in the city’s history and you turn it around into something really positive. It’s been a fantastic marriage between the first responders, the Vegas Golden Knights, the players and the hope and excitement they brought to this town. It’s just a tremendous story.”
Subban on the success of the Golden Knights in their inaugural season: “I don’t think this team has gotten its due from the start … This is a good hockey team, this is a well-balanced hockey team. For the owners that invested in this team, they’re surely getting every penny’s worth.”
Subban on Ovechkin’s legacy if he wins the Stanley Cup: “He’s one of the best players of our generation, one of the best players of all-time, one of the best goal-scorers of all-time. And I believe that if he wins tonight, he solidifies himself as the best Russian hockey player of all-time. I don’t think there’s any question about that.”
Carter on the similarities between Ovechkin and Steve Yzerman: “I think back to a player like Steve Yzerman, an elite goal scorer, an elite player, that had to change his game late in his career when Scotty Bowman came from the Detroit Red Wings and now we think Steve Yzerman as one of the top leaders in NHL history.”
Subban on Nashville and Vegas’ fanbases: “First of all, coming to Nashville first I didn’t know what it was going to be. Playing in Montreal … Montreal has amazing fans, but Nashville is second to none. But then, we come to play Vegas and I’m like, ‘Man, this entertainment.’”
Boucher on Fleury’s performance in this series: “I don’t let Marc-Andre Fleury off the hook one bit. He has to be better … Marc-Andre Fleury has to be sensational even if his team in front of him is not.”
T.J. Oshie to Roenick before puck drop: “These guys start pretty fast in this building. We can’t feed their transition game. We have to almost bore them a little bit in the first 10 minutes and put pucks behind them.”
Jones added: “I don’t recommend it. I think they should come right after them. It’s not been the way they’ve played throughout the playoffs. I would not sit back.”