The time that all hockey fans have been waiting for has arrived. The Washington Capitals, winners of the Eastern Conference, meet the Western Conference champion Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night. It’s a matchup which few pundits expected to see back in October, but here we are. Either the Golden Knights will become the first expansion team to win the Stanley Cup or Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals will finally have their moment that has eluded them in years past.
One team will lift the Stanley Cup for the first time by the end of the series.
Marc-Andre Fleury is no stranger to the Capitals. Fleury, who spent 13 years with the Pittsburgh Penguins, defeated the Capitals en route to consecutive Stanley Cup victories. Now, in his first season with the Golden Knights, the 33-year-old goaltender is four wins away from his third-straight Stanley Cup.
“It’s going to be a tough one,” Fleury told reporters on Saturday. “They’re a very complete team. Holtby’s been playing great. I think they’ve had a great playoff too. Coming back and beating Columbus, then beating the Penguins who they haven’t beat in a long time and beating one of the best in the league with Tampa. It’s going to be a good challenge for us.”
How Vegas became the most successful expansion team in sports history
In the regular season, Fleury recorded two wins over Washington where he stopped 46 total shots and allowed just three goals. The Quebec native is the front-runner for the Conn Smythe Trophy as he holds a .947 save percentage in the playoffs.
“He’s a great goalie. He knows how to win,” Ovechkin told the Washington Post. “It’s always challenging to play against the best.”
Ovechkin, on the other hand, seemingly follows Fleury on the Conn Smythe watch list. Ovechkin leads the Capitals with 12 goals, and his 22 points is second on Washington — Evgeny Kuznetsov has tallied 24 points. Washington’s captain finished the conference finals averaging a point per game and will likely have to maintain that output against the Golden Knights if he wants to raise the Stanley Cup.
Sporting News will provide updates throughout Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. Puck drop is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. (All Times Eastern)
3:15 p.m. — Deryk Engelland spoke to the media ahead of tonight’s Game 1.
🎥 Engelland: This is what you dream about all your life growing up is the chance to play for (the Cup). pic.twitter.com/Ac9KUL6cqC
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) May 28, 2018
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