Ovechkin tops off first Cup with Conn Smythe
LAS VEGAS — Alex Ovechkin is a Stanley Cup champion at last, and he has another piece of hardware, too.
The Washington Capitals captain won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoffs MVP after leading his team with 15 goals this postseason. Ovechkin also added 12 assists to finish second on his team with 27 points. Ten of Ovechkin’s goals came on the road.
The Capitals won their first Stanley Cup in franchise history after finishing off the expansion Vegas Golden Knights in five games. Ovechkin scored a goal in the second period in Thursday night’s Game 5, giving the Capitals a 2-1 lead. Washington ended up winning 4-3 on a late third-period goal by Lars Eller.
It was the first championship for a professional D.C.-based team in 26 years.
“Obviously, this emotion is just unbelievable,” Ovechkin said. “I can’t imagine what’s happening right now back in Washington. It’s gonna be so crazy. I’m so happy for team, for our organization. We’ve been waiting for so long, and finally we got the result and we got the Cup.”
Asked what it was like to finally lift the Cup after 13 seasons, Ovechkin said with a laugh, “It’s very heavy, but it’s light.”
“It’s just a dream come true,” he said. “That’s why you have to play. That’s why you have to work hard, to get this moment and share it with your teammates, share it with your family and with the fans. It’s something special.”
Ovechkin edged out teammate and linemate Evgeny Kuznetsov for the Conn Smythe. Kuznetsov, a center, tallied 32 points this postseason — the second-most in a single playoff year over the last 20 postseasons. Only Evgeni Malkin had more with 36 in 2009.
Ovechkin, who became the first Russian-born captain to win a Stanley Cup, is the fourth European-born player in NHL history to earn the Conn Smythe Trophy. He follows Pittsburgh’s Malkin (2009), Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg (2008) and Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom (2002).
Ovechkin won his seventh league scoring title this season after scoring 49 goals for 87 points in 82 games. His goals accounted for 19.1 percent of the Capitals’ scoring this season. Ovechkin, who has 607 career goals, has played in 1,003 regular-season games, all with the Capitals.