Man, I don’t even know what to tell you. It was a joy. It was madness. It was super, super fun. Did you ever think you would see something like this? A rowdy bunch of Capitals fans, happily swarming the steps of the National Portrait Gallery, cellphones out, recording the moment.
The Washington Capitals beat the Vegas Golden Knights, 6-2, and here they stood: wide eyes, bright smiles, arms in the air. Chanting, over and over, something that was — at the end of Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals — a fact but still, something that must have felt wildly, completely unbelievable.
“One more win. One more win.”
“I’ve been dreaming of this since the day I was born,” said John Woodward, 23, of Arlington, Va., who, moments earlier, was on the ground, where he had fallen. “I can’t believe we’re finally one win away.”
“We want the Cup,” an area Caps fan named Stephanie wrote in my notebook, after grabbing it to record her own dang quote.
“I miss Semin!” wrote her friend, who had the notebook next. “Insanity!”
Yeah, dude, it was insanity. Did you miss that part where a bro was on the ground? There were glow sticks. There were chants. At least one large inflatable Stanley Cup. Hope. I got whacked in the face somehow, at (I think??) the same time that Woodward took his tumble. (I guess??? Who knows what happened there. Confusing night.) Earlier in the day, someone had scaled a local bank by the outdoor watch party. This was enough to make me forget that. Almost.
“It feels amazing,” said Judith Taylor, 22, who stood on the steps with her best friend. “There’s actually no word to describe it right now.”
Anyway. The game! A game happened. The Capitals won. People watched it outside, which turned out to be a pretty ace setup, because the weather was perf and the fans were lively and overall, it was a beauty of a hockey night in Washington.
The crowd stretched from the McDonald’s at Capital One Arena, where the game was being shown on a big screen, all the way down the street to a stage where Fall Out Boy had performed earlier. This was primo outdoor drinking weather, which is something I feel obligated to mention, because here is a quote from a person.
“Since 1776,” said one Caps fan in the crowd, who later described himself as “hammered.” “History hasn’t meant s—. The Caps are here to make history. Stand for that.”
(I don’t even know. I usually have a policy against using drunk people quotes, but come on.)
By the end of the first period, Washington was up, 3-0, on goals from Devante Smith-Pelly, Tom Wilson, and public transportation enthusiast T.J. Oshie.
“If you have a camera,” someone said, as I was doing an interview, “there’s a guy on top of the EagleBank right now.”
And there was! It was a younger dude, scampering along on the nearby EagleBank, a bold move that prompted chants from the crowd, and also cries from a group that appeared to be his buddies, who screamed for him to climb down.
Outside the arena was a sea of red. Fast-food dinners and beer cans littered the ground. There were cheers of celebration, on account of the numerous goals. A delightful scene, just generally.
“Claustrophobic,” said Taylor Campbell, 25, of Arlington, Va., later in the night. “But very fun.”
“It was awesome,” Brooke Sadler, 27, also of Arlington. “A lot of great energy.”
As the game ended, there were wild cheers for the win, arms thrown up in the air. Then some made the trek to the steps, where the group of revelers included Quinn O’Connor, 20, who stood with a friend. It feels expletive amazing, she told a reporter on Monday night. Well, okay, can you get rid of the expletive?
“It feels,” she said, “like something so well deserved.”
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