Olivia Herman told herself she would paint her face red, white, and blue for her graduation from Westminster High School if Washington Capitals right winger T.J. Oshie scored a goal Monday in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Oshie netted one scored about halfway through the first period en route to helping the Caps defeat the Las Vegas Golden Knights 6-2 at Capital One Arena. The victory gave the Eastern Conference champions a 3-1 lead in the best-of-7 series.
One more win over the Golden Knights — Game 5 is Thursday in Las Vegas — will give the Capitals their first Stanley Cup victory in franchise history, and many of Carroll County’s Caps fans are feeling the team’s energy.
“I think it was honestly half when they beat the [Pittsburgh] Penguins in overtime, and half when they won the Tampa Bay [Lightning] series and [goalie Braden] Holtby had two shutouts,” Herman said. “I sat there and watched those games and thought this could really happen.”
The Capitals hold the fifth longest active postseason appearance streak, but until this year had not advanced past the conference semifinals since 1998. They advanced to the Stanley Cup Final that season, but were swept by the Detroit Red Wings in four games.
They knocked out the Columbus Blue Jackets in six games in the conference quarterfinals, after being down 2-0 in the series, to set up a third consecutive second-round matchup with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Pens won the Stanley Cup in 2016 and 2017 and were responsible for eliminating the Caps each of those seasons.
This time around, the Capitals used a 2-1 overtime victory in Game 6 to beat Pittsburgh and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. From there, they outlasted Tampa Bay in seven games — Washington trailed 3-2 in that series — to keep their season alive.
Nick Henneman, a recent Westminster grad, said he was first introduced to the Capitals when he was 9 or 10 years old. He said he started to watch games with his uncle when Mike Green, a former Caps defenseman, played. The skill level and speed the players had fascinated him and he has been hooked ever since.
“I think this will not only be the biggest accomplishment of [Alex] Ovechkin’s career, but it will put him over the edge with the greats of all time,” Henneman said. “He will be up there for sure and the commentators have doubted him his whole career saying he can’t finish in the playoffs but they can finally be proven wrong.
“His emotion after every goal is ridiculous; he always has a smile on his face. It shows how good this team is and how much of a shot they have at closing it out on Thursday.”
Standout softball pitcher Chloe Sharman, who graduates from South Carroll this week, said she and Cavaliers coach Matt Cannistraci place bets with one another. The fan of the losing team — Capitals or Penguins — had to do something silly, whatever the fan of the winning team requested.
Sharman had to draw something significant to the Penguins on her cheeks for a softball game last season as a result of the Penguins defeating the Capitals in the second round. This year, Cannistraci found himself on the losing end and had to draw two red C’s on his cheeks since the Caps ousted the two-time reigning Stanley Cup champions.
“I’m just really proud because they made it before 20 years ago and never actually won,” Sharman said. “They’ve already broken so many records this season and it would be a great way to cap it off. I’m sure everyone around D.C., Maryland and Virginia would be excited for them.”
Herman, who graduated from Westminster on Wednesday, was not permitted to paint her face; however, will look to find other forms of team spirit in honor of her favorite hockey team.
Latest Carroll County High School Sports
“I think it’s so important because there’s other teams in Washington but none of them have made it as far,” Herman said. “You have the rallies like [Monday] night, there are multiple rallies outside the arena and it shows how much the fans want it just as much as the players.”