Hours after winning their first-ever Stanley Cup, the Washington Capitals have returned home to a heroes' welcome.
The Caps landed at Washington Dulles International Airport about 5 p.m. The plane taxied through the spray of celebratory water cannons.
Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Bäckström stepped off the plane to cheers, hoisting the Cup over their heads as they grinned.
Then, their teammates walked off the plane one by one.
Later Friday, T.J. Oshie, Tom Wilson, Devante Smith-Pelly and other players were seen celebrating at Don Tito's in the Clarendon area of Arlington, Virginia.
A crowd of fans gathered around and cheered on Wilson as he lifted the Cup up high before entering the bar. Some fans told News4 they planned to stay at the bar all night until they saw all the players there leave the building where they were having a private party.
The party will continue for the team on Saturday when they appear at the Washington Nationals game versus the San Francisco Giants. Ovechkin will throw out the first pitch at the 12:05 p.m. game.
After the Caps won 4-3 on Thursday, Alex Ovechkin put both hands to his head and screamed while he left the bench and skated into the thick of the joyous celebration.
And right before Ovechkin hoisted the Stanley Cup, the Washington captain put both hands on his head again in a gesture of disbelieving ecstasy.
You can believe it, Ovi. So can the Washington fans whose championship drought is finally over.
After striving through 13 of his franchise's 43 seasons, the Russian superstar and the long-suffering Capitals are sitting on top of hockey for the very first time.
"It doesn't matter what happened before,'' Ovechkin said through his gap-toothed grin. "We just won it."
Lars Eller scored the tiebreaking goal with 7:37 to play, and the Capitals claimed their first NHL title with a 4-3 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday night in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Ovechkin capped his playoff MVP campaign with an early power-play goal, and Devante Smith-Pelly tied it with a full-stretch goal midway through the final period of the Capitals' fourth consecutive victory over the Golden Knights.
"We did it," said Ovechkin, whose 15 playoff goals set a franchise record. "That's all that matters. Look at the smiles on my teammates. This is something you'll never forget. This moment, I'll remember for the rest of my life. I'm so happy. It's unbelievable."
Vegas' incredible expansion season finally ended, and so did the Capitals' wait for a title since their debut in 1974. But after so many years of crushing disappointment for a team with a lengthy history of postseason failure, these Caps confidently won their fourth consecutive closeout game with a tenacious third-period comeback in Vegas.
The streets outside Capital One Arena were filled with Capitals fans clad in red, cheering and dancing in the street to celebrate the team's first Stanley Cup championship in franchise history.
A victory parade for the Capitals is set to start Tuesday at 11 a.m., News4's Mark Segraves first reported.
The celebration will roll down Constitution Avenue from 17th to 7th streets NW and will then turn right and end with an ALLCAPS rally at 7th and the National Mall, Monumental Sports, the group that owns the team, announced Friday afternoon.
The parade will be free and open to the public. Planners are encouraging fans to take Metro or rideshare and to bring plenty of water.
More details about the rally, including speakers, are still to come, planners said.