Series preview

This year’s Stanley Cup Final features two franchises seeking their first championship: one team no one thought would win anything significant this season, and another with many doubters of its own. Vegas was a 500-1 long shot at the start of the season.

Cup history

Capitals: Washington has been chasing glory for 42 seasons, and this is only their second Final appearance. They were swept by Detroit 20 years ago.

Knights: Vegas in the Cup Final in its inaugural season, the first to do it since the 1967-68 St. Louis Blues when all six expansion teams were in the same division.

How they got here

Capitals: Washington (49-26-7 during the regular season) beat top-seeded Tampa Bay three times on the road in the Eastern Conference finals. The Capitals are 8-2 away from home this postseason.

Knights: Vegas (51-24-7 during the regular season) heads into the final round with a 12-3 playoff record. It clinched all three of its West series on the road.

Coaches

Capitals: Barry Trotz does not have a contract for next season but has arguably done the best job of his 19-year career. He had not made it past the second round until this year.

Knights: Before this season, the enduring image of Gerard Gallant had been of him climbing into a taxi outside PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C., in November 2016 after being fired by Florida.

Offense

Capitals: Alex Ovechkin has a career-high 22 points on 12 goals and 10 assists in the postseason after leading the NHL with 49 goals during the regular season. Linemate Evgeny Kuznetsov has a franchise-record 24 playoff points through 19 games.

Knights: The line of William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith has potted a team-high 10 postseason even-strength goals while allowing only four. Karlsson had 43 goals during the regular season.

Defense

Capitals: Washington finished the conference finals with two shutouts and nearly eight periods without ceding a goal. Brooks Orpik, a 37-year-old defenseman, is the only player on the Capitals roster who has Stanley Cup experience.

Knights: Nate Schmidt, the former Capital, and his hard-hitting partner, Brayden McNabb, will be deployed as often as possible against Alex Ovechkin and his potent linemate Evgeny Kuznetsov. Schmidt is a St. Cloud native who played for the Gophers.

Goaltending

Capitals: Braden Holtby did not start the first two games of the playoffs but is 12-6 with a 2.04 goals-against average and .924 save percentage since replacing Philipp Grubauer.

Knights: Marc-Andre Fleury (1.68 GAA, .947 save percentage in the playoffs) was a member of three Pittsburgh teams that eliminated the Capitals on the way to winning the Stanley Cup.

Odds and ends

Capitals: Among markets with teams in the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB, only the Twin Cities has a longer championship drought going than Washington.

Knights: Former Wild forwards Erik Haula and Alex Tuch have been major contributors. … GM George McPhee was formerly with Washington and selected 13 of the 21 players who dressed in 50 or more games for the Capitals this season.

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