- The Washington Times - Friday, June 8, 2018

Lars Eller, you’ll never have to buy a beer in the District again.

The Capitals center on Thursday gave fans in the region what some had been waiting for their entire lives: a championship.

Eller’s goal in the third period proved the difference in Washington’s 4-3 win in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, entering a decades-long drought for major sports titles among Washington teams.

As soon as the final horn sounded, thousands erupted at the team’s sellout watch party inside Capital One Arena. Outside, thousands more jumped for joy on the National Portrait Gallery steps.

Years — decades — worth of investments of cash, time, and pure emotion finally paid off.

People born after 1992 (including this writer) had never witnessed a championship in this city.

No longer.    

No longer do District natives have to hear about how Washington isn’t a real sports town. No longer do Washingtonians have to steam in silence while Philadelphia friends prattle on about Super Bowls and Eagles.

In the end, Alex Ovechkin and company actually pulled it off.

Ovechkin’s legacy in D.C. sports history is solidified, if it hadn’t already been. The 32-year-old is, finally, certifiably an NHL champion. His impact on a new generation of hockey players and fans, already significant, will only grow.

There are children named after the Capitals’ captain. There will be more.

There are fans who followed the team to Las Vegas. On Thursday, Capitals fans invaded T-Mobile Arena in Vegas, chiming in with “RED” and “O” during the “Star-Spangled Banner.”

“We had so many fans here tonight it was incredible,” defenseman John Carlson said.

In crowded living rooms around the region, friends and family gathered and cheered the team that had captured the DMV’s imagination. In Manhattan, lines of Capitals fans snaked out the doors of bars showing Game 5. On social media, on Twitter and Facebook, Washington-bashing was replaced for a night by people across the country showing off their Braden Holtby jerseys. 

Back in the District, F Street was wall-to-wall with a red-clad throng, an ocean of Holtbys, Ovechkins, Ellers and more. As was G. And H.

Fans climbed fire trucks. Others climbed light poles. Selfies were taken. (Camera phones didn’t even exist the last time a major D.C. sports team won it a title)

A city that had almost forgotten what winning it all feels like was given a gift on Thursday. Now, when’s the parade?


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