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POSTED BY: linchao on 13/08/2018 02:49:16


Jimmy Patterson was a fresh-faced 22-year-old in the stands at the old Capital Centre in October 1974 when the expansion Washington Capitals won for the first time.

As he was leaving Ronald Jones II Buccaneers Jersey , an elderly man from Brooklyn told Patterson he’d always get to say he saw the Capitals’ first win. The man smiled and added, ”You can’t lose ’em all.”

Forty-plus years, more than 3,000 games and 27 unsuccessful playoff runs later, Patterson and legions of longtime Capitals fans finally have a reason to believe that. Many who watched Wednesday night at an arena watch party far from Game 7 in Tampa Bay took to the steps of the National Portrait Gallery to celebrate the Capitals’ first trip to the Stanley Cup Final since 1998. Game 1 in Las Vegas against the Golden Knights is Monday night.

”It’s been really gratifying,” said Patterson, now 65. ”It feels a lot different, and it’s a weird feeling.”

Filling the area, fans chanted, ”We want the Cup,” ”We want Vegas” and ”DC! DC!” in an outpouring of joy decades and crushing losses in the making. Alex Ovechkin’s Capitals are the first Washington team in the major four professional sports leagues to reach the final in a generation. To get this far, they had to not only outlast the Lightning but survive longtime playoff nemesis Pittsburgh Cheap Donte Jackson Jersey , which has won the last two championships.

”It’s been 20 long, dry years and we are back,” Capitals public address announcer Wes Johnson said. ”This is catharsis. Once we beat the Penguins, then you could see that the fan base was like, `Let’s just play hockey.’ As John Walton said, it’s OK to believe. It’s not just OK to believe. Just believe.”

Among markets with teams in the NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball, only the Twin Cities in Minnesota has a longer championship drought going than Washington. The Redskins won their third Super Bowl title in January 1992 and it’s been mostly grim since then. None of the Redskins, Wizards, Nationals and Capitals even reached a league semifinal from 1998 until this spring.

In that same time, Boston’s teams have made 25 league semifinal appearances and won 10 titles. Maybe success is contagious.

”Last year all of those (other Washington) teams made the playoffs and then it was like Quenton Nelson Colts Jersey , hey we got to do the same too, and we dropped the ball,” Redskins running back Chris Thompson said. ”If you see your D.C. teams succeeding and the Capitals now (in) the finals and stuff like that, it’s a little bit of motivation.”

The Capitals got over the hump in their 10th playoff appearance after early exits marred by sudden-death overtime winners, a hot goaltender named Jaroslav Halak, the New York Rangers and – of course – the Penguins.

”It’s just been one nightmare after another,” said Anthony Beverina, who has had season tickets in section 417 since 1997-98. ”And it makes you wonder if there’s some inherit either cosmic conspiracy or a core character issue in the core guys.”

The nightmare has slowly felt like a dream on this playoff run, which was unexpected following an offseason of salary-cap casualties in the wake of another crushing second-round loss to Pittsburgh. Players rallied around lower preseason expectations, and even going into the playoffs Washington wasn’t supposed to do this.

”This team is so fun,” said George Christo, a Boston transplant who has had season tickets since 1995-96. ”This team is the most fun since that ’98 team primarily because Cheap Dante Pettis Jersey , both of those teams, who on earth expected either of these teams to be able to get this deep and to be that tough?”

After so many early playoff exits, Capitals fans are reluctant to feel too good about things. Christo said even his children have almost gotten sick of going to games -until this year, which has challenged a lot of the old conventions about doomsday D.C. sports.

”There are people sitting in season-ticket-holder seats because they’re home mashing teeth and biting their fingernails,” Patterson said. ”A lot of fans around the country when their team is in the playoffs, they like to have get-togethers and parties, viewing parties for the away games and stuff like that. But if you’ve been through some of this stuff, after the second game of a playoff series, there won’t be any of that because you can’t have your friends over and watch a game and then have everybody in that awful mood when it’s over and they’re shaking hands and you’re on the losing side.”

It was the opposite Wednesday night when almost 10,000 people wearing red watched on video screens above a basketball court as Capitals players and coaches were on the winning side of their handshake line with the Lightning. Cheers greeted Ovechkin touching the Prince of Wales Trophy and then the flash of the Stanley Cup Final schedule before the series against former general manager George McPhee’s Vegas Golden Knights begins.

”We’re going to the Stanley Cup Final,” Ovechkin said. ”I think everybody is happy, but we still have unfinished Authentic Joe Mixon Jersey , you know what I mean. I don’t know, I’m emotional right now. I think we’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time.”

Game 3 on June 2 will be the first Cup Final game in the district since 1998, when the Capitals were swept by the Detroit Red Wings. One more win will make this the most successful season in franchise history, and though superstition and history keeps fans from thinking about the ”what if” of four more, they’re no l The Florida Panthers preserved their playoff hopes thanks to much of their offense coming from unlikely sources.

Alexander Petrovic scored the tiebreaking goal in the third period to lift the Panthers to a 3-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday night.

Evgenii Dadonov and MacKenzie Weegar also scored to help the Panthers snap a three-game skid and pull five points behind idle New Jersey for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference. Florida has four games remaining, one more than the Devils. Roberto Luongo stopped 26 shots.

Petrovic and Weegar entered the game with one goal each on the season.

”It doesn’t come too often, but everyone chips in a certain way and tonight we just found a way to get the two points,” Petrovic said. ”Just keeping this thing alive.”

On the go-ahead goal, Petrovic shot from the boards above the right circle and beat Darling with 7:58 left for his first goal since Feb. 14 against Vancouver. His second goal of the season couldn’t have come at a better time.

The Panthers host the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night.

”We needed tonight’s win at all costs,” Luongo said. ”We got the job done, now we’ve got to get some rest tonight and another big game tomorrow.”

Derek Ryan and Trevor van Riemsdyk scored for Carolina, and Scott Darling finished with 32 saves.

”They knew they needed two points tonight and they were going for it Derwin James Jersey ,” van Riemsdyk said. ”They were desperate, and they found a way.”

Carolina had tied it 2-2 with 6:12 left in the second it caught Florida on a line change, and Ryan backhanded the puck past Luongo for his 15th.

The Hurricanes were eliminated from the playoffs on Saturday night and could have played the spoiler role.

”More than trying to ruin their season it’s us playing for pride for each other. That’s more important for me,” Ryan said. ”They dug deep when the pressure was on.”

The Hurricanes took a 1-0 lead on a goal by van Riemsdyk 3:44 in. Luongo blocked a shot from in front by Brock McGinn but van Riemsdyk slapped in the rebound for his third.

The Panthers answered 19 seconds later when Weegar’s shot from the right circle went over Darling’s glove for his second of the season. Weegar’s last goal was on Oct. 20 against Pittsburgh.

”We’ve got to respond after they score, and we did just that. I’m happy I could contribute. It’s been a long time,” Weegar said.

Dadonov gave the Panthers ahead 2-1 on a power-play goal with 9.1 seconds left in the first. Aleksander Barkov passed over to Dadonov in the slot and he flipped the puck off Darling’s leg for his 27th.

NOTES: Barkov’s assist on Dadonov’s goal was his 50th, becoming the first Panthers player to hit that mark since Olli Jokinen had 52 in the 2006-07 season. … Panthers forwards Frank Vatrano and Denis Malgin returned after missing the previous game with injuries.Carolina recalled D Roland McKeown from AHL Charlotte on Sunday.

UP NEXT:

Hurricanes: At Philadelphia on Thursday night.

Panthers: Host Nashville on Tuesday night.

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