Washington, Vegas to face off in Stanley Cup Final

The Washington Capitals will face the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Final after beating Tampa Bay 4-0 in Game 7 of their playoff series Wednesday night.

The Eastern Conference finals saw the Capitals jump out to a 2-0 lead before the Lightning won the next three games. With their backs against the wall, Washington needed a Game 6 home ice win to force the decisive Game 7.

It’s been an interesting playoffs for the Capitals, who fell behind 0-2 to the Columbus Blue Jackets before winning their first-round series and then shocked the two-time defending champion Penguins in six games.

Tampa Bay, meanwhile, had an easy go of it in the first two rounds, dropping only one game in each series in dispatching the New Jersey Devils and Boston Bruins.

Washington’s win means the Stanley Cup Final series will start in Vegas.

Vegas, which didn’t even have a team a year ago, has had a historic playoff run, topping the Pacific Division to become the first expansion team to make the playoffs since the 1967 NHL expansion that took the league from six to 12 teams.

However, four expansion teams during that 1967-68 season were guaranteed to make the playoffs, with the NHL putting the six new teams in the newly formed West Division.

That alignment is also the only reason the Golden Knights aren’t the first expansion team to make the Stanley Cup Final.

The 1967-68 St. Louis Blues finished third in the West that year against its expansion brethren. The Blues beat the Flyers and North Stars in the first two rounds before getting swept by the Montreal Canadiens in the Final.