LAS VEGAS • Midnight finally struck on the Vegas Golden Knights' Cinderella run on Thursday, as the National Hockey League (NHL) expansion team proved no match for the Washington Capitals in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Vegas were 500-1 long shots to win the Stanley Cup at the start of the season, but surprised the ice hockey world by going on an astonishing journey that ended when they lost the best-of-seven championship series 4-1.
"It was a phenomenal year, an unbelievable year," said Vegas head coach Gerard Gallant. "I know in a couple days we'll feel real good about it, but any time you see that Stanley Cup and you're that close to it, it's going to hurt for a while."
Players on the Golden Knights called themselves the "Golden Misfits" since the roster comprised mostly depth players deemed expendable by their former teams, while owner Bill Foley said his goal was to make the play-offs in three years.
But the Golden Knights, with the enthusiasm of a motley crew of veterans and young players, stormed to the Pacific Division title before posting a 12-3 record over the first three rounds of the play-offs.
But even at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, the house does not always win. Washington won Game 5 4-3 to capture their first NHL championship in their 44-year history.
"It means everything. I think this moment, we were waiting a long, long time," said Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin, who was named Most Valuable Player of this season's play-offs.
"This organisation wanted it so bad."
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE