(CNN)When Alex Ovechkin hoisted the Stanley Cup into the air in Las Vegas on Thursday, a burden was lifted off himself and sports fans of Washington, DC.
The Capitals defeated the Vegas Golden Knights in five games,ending a championship drought for fans of metro DC professional sports teams, who hadn't celebrated a title since Washington's NFL team won the Super Bowl in 1992. It also cemented the 32-year-old Russian's legacy with his first NHL title after 13 seasons in the league.
"It meant everything," Ovechkin, a native of Moscow and the team's captain, said. "I think this moment, we were waiting a long, long time. ... It just was -- joy."
"Was a tough time, but we fight through it and we get the result.," he added. "Now I'm going home to our family, our fans. It's just something special, you know. I'm just very excited and I'm very happy right now."
The Russian was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2004 NHL draft. What would have been his first season, though, was the 2004-2005 NHL lockout. Then came the years with playoff misery. The Capitals couldn't get out of the second round or past Sidney Crosby's Pittsburgh Penguins, who had eliminated Washington in each of their past seven playoff series and in nine of 10 series overall.
"Every team was special," Ovechkin, who has been Washington's captain since 2010, said. "But I thought the only thing that last couple years, we didn't pass the second round. Just playing, and no satisfaction. Every year we want to fight through it. Finally we did. We knew this year is going to be our year. We just have to believe it and keep working, keep playing."