TAMPA, Fla. — Alex Ovechkin is thrilled, though hardly satisfied.

The Washington Capitals’ star is headed to the Stanley Cup final for the first time in his 13-year career, eager to put more distance between the Eastern Conference champions and a lingering perception of Ovechkin and the Caps as playoff underachievers.

“Finally we get what we want, be in the Stanley Cup final,” the 32-year-old Russian star said. “There’s still a lot of hockey to play.”

Ovechkin scored just over a minute into Washington’s 4-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final Wednesday night.

Braden Holtby stopped 29 shots to notch his second straight shutout. Andre Burakovsky scored two goals, and Nicklas Backstrom added an empty-netter to help the Capitals close it out.

Now, they’ve got to do it again against the expansion Vegas Golden Knights, who are Western Conference champions in their inaugural season.

“I feel very happy, but we’re not finished yet,” Ovechkin said. “We’ve been waiting for this moment a long time.”

The Golden Knights breezed through the Western Conference, scoring 43 goals and allowing 27 while going 12-3 to eliminate the Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks and Winnipeg Jets during an improbable run to the Stanley Cup final.

Vegas went 2-0 against the Capitals in the regular season, winning 3-0 at home on Dec. 23 and 4-3 at Washington on Feb. 4.

“It’s a great story. They’re a good hockey team, they have a lot of good players, players from other teams – I know a lot of people say we didn’t want those players, but we all did,” said Capitals Coach Barry Trotz, the first coach for the Portland Pirates.

The Golden Knights’ top scorer during the playoffs is former Lightning forward Jonathan Marchessault with 18 points (eight goals, 10 assists). Alex Tuch is second among league rookies with nine points (six goals, three assists).

Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who’s in the Stanley Cup final for the third straight season and fifth time overall, has been a huge part of the team’s success, too, with a 1.68 goals-against-average and .947 save percentage.

NOTES

RANGERS: David Quinn had been contacted by other NHL teams in recent years, and chose to remain at Boston University. When the New York Rangers came calling, it was different.

As talks with GM Jeff Gorton and assistant GM Chris Drury – both of whom he’s known for many years – progressed, he knew it was time to make the move.

“It just seemed like a natural fit,” Quinn said when he was introduced as the Rangers’ coach at Madison Square Garden.

“I’m 52 years old and at this point in my life, to be able to be the head coach of the New York Rangers was an opportunity I could not pass up.”

Quinn led the Terriers to four NCAA Tournament appearances in five seasons, including a trip to the national title game in 2015.

SHARKS: Evander Kane bypassed a chance at the open market by signing a seven-year deal worth $49 million to stay with the Sharks for the long term.


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