It turns out that the Nationals’ victory celebration in Washington on Saturday didn’t end so much as it paused for a bit of much-needed rest. Sunday evening found the World Series champions out at Capital One Arena as the Washington Capitals faced the Calgary Flames.
Both in the Capitals’ locker room before the game and in an arena suite during it, Nats outfielder Adam Eaton paid homage to the Capitals’ T.J. Oshie by drinking a beer through his jersey. In the second period, Eaton made his way down to the ice level, by the Zamboni entrance, and used the World Series trophy to celebrate a hat trick by Washington’s Jakub Vrana.
Between the second and third periods, Eaton and several other Nats hitched a ride on a Zamboni as it made its way around the ice. They then proved they were willing to take the shirts off their backs to help whip the crowd into a frenzy.
After the Nats won the World Series, Eaton made it clear that he was aware the Caps had set an exceedingly high standard for post-championship celebrations.
“Those guys partied as well as anybody could have,” he said then. “They set the bar really high, so we’re excited to be able to have a similar situation.”
Alex Ovechkin, who led an epic bender by the Caps last year in the wake of his team’s title, predicted before Sunday’s game that the Nats were “going to have beers, they going to have lots of chicken wings and nachos.”
“They deserve it," he added. "That’s pretty cool. We very happy for guys, for the whole city, for fans, for this area. They [were] in the fight and they finished the fight.”
Before the game, Nationals principal owner Mark Lerner, General Manager Mike Rizzo and Manager Dave Martinez were introduced to loud applause. Then the Caps and Nats joined on the ice for a “District of Champions” team photo — minus the WNBA champion Mystics — as Queen’s “We are the Champions” played.
“They look pretty sober," Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov said of the Nats, during a mid-game interview. ″When we was in their situation, I don’t remember anything.”
Zimmerman gave a pregame pep talk Sunday, telling the Caps: “Seeing you guys following us … and seeing the Halloween party with you guys spraying champagne, man, that was awesome for us. We had a great time watching you, and the support you gave us, I think, really put us over the top. So thank you guys so much —and let’s kick some a-- tonight.”
Several Caps players wore Nats jerseys as they entered Capital One Arena, and their counterparts returned the favor while wheeling in the Commissioner’s Trophy.
The Caps beat the Flames, 4-2.
“It’s amazing to have the World Series champs in the building, and everything that went along with it and the energy that they had," Capitals Coach Todd Reirden said after the game. “Obviously I didn’t see it all — I’m looking forward to rewatching that side of the game to see what was really going on up there. I saw part of it. It’s interesting, because from our perspective sometimes it gets to be a little bit of a distraction, because the game that’s going on and all the fans want to see the Nats.
"They’re not watching the game. It’s a weird dynamic, but it’s an amazing one.”
After Ovechkin paraded the Stanley Cup onto the field at Nationals Park last year and threw out the ceremonial first pitch, he and his teammates were scheduled to leave shortly thereafter but stayed in their suite for all nine innings.
Ovechkin also threw out the first pitch before a National League Division Series game in October between the Nationals and the Los Angeles Dodgers. For his part, Nats ace Max Scherzer dropped the ceremonial first puck at a Caps-Rangers game in October, though it was changed to a baseball in his honor.
Ultimately, given that the the Caps won the game, a good time was had by all. (Except the Flames.) At some point — presumably — the Nats left their suites, and it’s at least possible that they put their shirts back on.
Samantha Pell contributed to this report.