More than three minutes remained in the game, but Alex Ovechkin was on the bench, his gap-tooth smile unmistakable and wide. He raised both arms and hugged whoever was next to him. This Game 7 was a blowout, and he knew the history that had plagued him and his team was about to change.
Then 7.3 seconds remained, and Ovechkin stood in front of his bench and was wrapped in a few more embraces. Then time finally expired, and Ovechkin hopped off the bench and kicked up a leg before he was flanked by teammates Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie.
“You don’t even have to say so much, you just have to look at each other,” Backstrom said. “We’ve been waiting a long time for this.”
Finally, Ovechkin grabbed the Prince of Wales Trophy for the Eastern Conference champions, unafraid of the superstition about not touching it, maybe because this team has already overcome so many odds. With the 4-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in the deciding game of the Eastern Conference finals, Washington will play the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup final starting Monday in Nevada.