Caps claim first Cup title with Game 5 comeback

Lars Eller's rebound goal with 7:37 remaining broke a tie and proved to be the championship-winning goal as the Washington Capitals won the first Stanley Cup in franchise history with a 4-3 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday night at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Eller outmuscled Vegas defender Luca Sbisa for the puck, which was fired at the net by Brett Connolly and squirted through the pads of Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury before it stopped on the edge of the crease. Eller then fired the rebound into the vacated net.

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Washington won the series 4-1, capturing the final four games. They clinched all four of their playoff series away from home and finished with 10 playoff road victories, tying the NHL single-season record.

Jakub Vrana, Alex Ovechkin and Devante Smith-Pelly also scored goals for Washington, which entered the NHL in the 1974-75 season. Capitals goalie Braden Holtby finished with 29 saves.

Ovechkin was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy, honoring the most valuable player of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

See the best photos from the series: 

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The best photos from the 2018 Stanley Cup Final
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The best photos from the 2018 Stanley Cup Final
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 02: Devante Smith-Pelly #25 of the Washington Capitals falls along the boards against Jonathan Marchessault #81 of the Vegas Golden Knights during the second period of Game Three of the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Capital One Arena on June 2, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 28: An official moves in to separate Ryan Carpenter #40 of the Vegas Golden Knights and Lars Eller #20 of the Washington Capitals in the first period of Game One of the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena on May 28, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Golden Knights defeated the Capitals 6-4. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 28: Devante Smith-Pelly #25 of the Washington Capitals and Shea Theodore #27 of the Vegas Golden Knights fall to the ice in the third period of Game One of the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena on May 28, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Golden Knights defeated the Capitals 6-4. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 28: Ryan Reaves #75 celebrates his goal with teammates Deryk Engelland #5, Tomas Nosek #92, Shea Theodore #27 and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare #41 of the Vegas Golden Knights against the Washington Capitals in Game One of the Stanley Cup Final during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena on May 28, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 28: Tomas Nosek #92 of the Vegas Golden Knights celebrates after scoring a third-period, empty-net goal against the Washington Capitals in Game One of the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena on May 28, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Golden Knights defeated the Capitals 6-4. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 30: Braden Holtby #70 of the Washington Capitals makes a diving stick-save on Alex Tuch #89 of the Vegas Golden Knights during the third period in Game Two of the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena on May 30, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Capitals defeated the Golden Knights3-2. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images)
May 30, 2018; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby (70) makes a diving save against the Vegas Golden Knights in the third period in game two of the 2018 Stanley Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
May 30, 2018; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Officials try to break up a scrum as Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Colin Miller (6) tackles Washington Capitals right wing Tom Wilson (43) in the third period in game two of the 2018 Stanley Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 02: Devante Smith-Pelly #25 of the Washington Capitals reacts after scoring a goal against the Vegas Golden Knights during the third period in Game Three of the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Capital One Arena on June 2, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 04: (L-R) Vegas Golden Knights fans Jay Bryant-Chavez, Brock Williams and Pamela Salas, all of Nevada, react during a Golden Knights road game watch party for Game Four of the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final between the Golden Knights and the Washington Capitals at T-Mobile Arena on June 4, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 04: John Carlson #74 of the Washington Capitals is congratulated by his teammates after scoring a second-period goal against the Vegas Golden Knights in Game Four of the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Capital One Arena on June 4, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 07: Devante Smith-Pelly #25 of the Washington Capitals scores a third-period goal past Marc-Andre Fleury #29 of the Vegas Golden Knights in Game Five of the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena on June 7, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 07: Marc-Andre Fleury #29 of the Vegas Golden Knights saves a shot during the second period against the Washington Capitals in Game Five of the Stanley Cup Final during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena on June 7, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 07: Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals celebrates his goal against the Vegas Golden Knights during the second period of Game Five of the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena on June 7, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 07: Lars Eller #20 of the Washington Capitals is congratulated by his teammates after scoring a third-period goal against the Vegas Golden Knights in Game Five of the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena on June 7, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Reilly Smith had a goal and an assist, and Nate Schmidt and David Perron also scored for Vegas. Marc-Andre Fleury made 29 saves for Vegas.

The expansion Golden Knights ended their surprise season with the first four-game losing streak in franchise history.

After a scoreless first period that featured a shot by Ovechkin than clanged off the right post, the teams traded four goals over the span of 6 1/2 minutes midway through the second period.

Vrana opened the scoring when he broke in alone off a nice outlet pass by Tom Wilson and fired a shot over Fleury's glove for his third goal of the playoffs.

Schmidt tied it when his wrister from the high slot hit the skate of Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen and caromed through Holtby's pads.

Washington regained the lead, 2-1, just 34 seconds later on a power-play goal by Ovechkin, his franchise-record 15th tally of the playoffs. He converted a crossing pass by Nicklas Backstrom with a one-timer from the edge of the left circle that bounced in off Fleury's pad.

Perron then tied it, 2-2, with his first goal of the playoffs when Tomas Tatar's redirect of a Colin Miller shot hit him just as he was shoved into the net by Washington defenseman Christian Djoos. The Capitals challenged that Perron, whose skate hit the back of Holtby's right leg, had interfered on the play, but the goal stood.

With Ovechkin in the penalty box for tripping William Karlsson, Vegas then took its first lead just before the end of the middle period. Smith scored his fifth goal of the playoffs, firing in a shot into a wide-open left side of the net off a crossing pass by Alex Tuch.

Smith-Pelly, who scored the game-winning goal in Game 4, then tied it at the 9:52 mark of the third period, stopping a pass from the blue line by Brook Orpik with his skate in the slot and then beating Fleury with a wrist shot on his glove side while falling down to the ice. That set the stage for Eller's game-winner.

The Golden Knights pulled Fleury for an extra attacker with 2:04 remaining. Backstrom missed a chance to seal it with 45 seconds left when he fired wide on the empty net from just inside the red line, but Vegas couldn't find an equalizer.

--Field Level Media

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