It’s like whenever the Washington Capitals needed a third goal, it had Devante Smith-Pelly’s name on it.
For the third time in three Stanley Cup Final games, Smith-Pelly scored the Capitals’ third goal of the game Thursday night against the Vegas Golden Knights – and perhaps the biggest one of his career.
The big right wing’s third period tally tied the game at 3. Moments later, Capitals center Lars Eller scored the go-ahead goal, securing Washington’s 4-3 victory and the franchise’s first Stanley Cup championship.
“It’s unbelievable, it’s amazing” Smith-Pelly told NBC Sports’ Jeremy Roenick. “I was just trying to do my job.The big guys are going to get their points. Us bottom six guys, we knew if we contributed, those guys were going to score. And if we chipped in, we were going to be successful.”
Smith-Pelly said the Capitals didn’t panic when Vegas held a 3-2 lead in the third period.
“We pushed through that all season long,” he said. “We’ve been doubted all year. We knew we were going to get some looks and we just needed to capitalize, and that’s what we did.”
Hoisting the Cup and notching the game-tying goal capped a season of redemption for Smith-Pelly, a 2012 Anaheim Ducks second round draft pick who was viewed as an under-achiever after he tallied 5 goals in 12 playoff games for the Ducks in 2013-14.
He was dealt by the Ducks to the Montreal Canadiens then moved to the New Jersey Devils before he signed with the Capitals before the 2017-18 season.
Used primarily as a checking forward, Smith-Pelly notched 7 goals and 9 assists in 75 regular season games in Washington.
He recaptured the playoff magic from his Anaheim days, scoring 7 goals and 1 assist in 24 post-season games for the Capitals.
Thursday’s win ended an eventful Las Vegas trip for Smith-Pelly. The Scarborough, Ontario, Canada native, one of two black players on the Capitals, intimated that he wouldn’t go to the White House to celebrate the Cup win, if President Donald Trump invites the team.
“The things that he spews are straight-up racist and sexist,” Smith-Pelly told Michael Trakios of Postmedia News Wednesday. “Some of the things he’s said are pretty gross…It hasn’t come up here, but I think I already have made my mind up.”
Smith-Pelly will become the eighth black player to have his name inscribed on the Stanley Cup.
His name will join those of goaltenders Grant Fuhr (Edmonton Oilers – 1984, 1985, 1987, 1998, 1990), Eldon “Pokey” Riddick (Oilers – 1990) and Ray Emery (Chicago Blackhawks – 2013), forwards Dustin Byfuglien(Blackhawks -2013) and Jamal Mayers (Blackhawks-2013), and defensemen Johnny Oduya (Blackhawks-2013, 2015) and Trevor Daley (Penguins – 2016, 2017).
Happy tears from the Smith-Pellys.☝️#StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/uFEDHkgWjY
— NHL (@NHL) June 8, 2018
Capitals rookie defenseman Madison Bowey didn’t play a minute in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but he could still get his name on the trophy.
NHL rules state that a player must have at least 41 games played with the team or appear in at least one Stanley Cup Final game to qualify for name inscription. Bowey played in 51 regular season games for Washington in 2017-18.
Bowey, who was called up from the Hershey Bears, the Capitals’ American Hockey League farm team, didn’t score a goal last season, but he did tally 12 assists in those 51 games.
Follow the Color of Hockey on Facebook and Twitter @ColorOfHockey. And download the Color of Hockey podcast from iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud and Google Play.