STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
The Washington Capitals are the Stanley Cup hockey champions. Last night in Las Vegas, they beat the Vegas Golden Knights 4-3 to claim Hockey's top prize. Esther Ciammachilli from member station WAMU watched with Washington fans on giant screens in and outside the Capitals' arena.
ESTHER CIAMMACHILLI, BYLINE: The Capitals have made Washington great again.
(SOUNDBITE OF HOCKEY GOAL SIREN)
CIAMMACHILLI: That was the moment Lars Eller scored the winning goal. A little over five minutes later, the game was over. Fans cried and hugged each other randomly. Confetti flew, and Queen's "We Are The Champions" played while the elated crowd sang along. It's a moment Caps fans have waited more than 40 years to experience. Paul Fischer choked back tears as he expressed what the night meant to him and his city.
PAUL FISCHER: I don't know. I get emotional. I was born in Washington, D.C. I've lived here all my life. And I love everything about this city, every sports team in this city I love. So, I mean, it's hard to put into words.
CIAMMACHILLI: The scene was just as emotional and the excitement just as intense outside Capital One Arena, where throngs of fans chanted and cheered. Decades of frustration and anguish were being lifted, and the energy filled the thick night air. Washington fans deserve this celebration. To put things into perspective, an entire generation of people have come of age waiting for a major D.C. sports team to win a championship. Jennifer Bimson of Maryland knows this well. The year was 1992.
JENNIFER BIMSON: I remember the last time we won a championship it was the Washington Redskins. I was a senior in high school. I'm showing my age, yes, I know. But it was amazing then. And to have the Washington Capitals finally win a championship, I had been waiting for years for this, and it is amazing.
CIAMMACHILLI: Soccer fans will remember that D.C. United, the city's Major League Soccer team, won a championship more recently. But Washington's big four sports teams - basketball, football, baseball and hockey - were failing their fans. In an interview on ESPN recently, columnist Michael Wilbon called D.C. a minor league sports town. Several fans at the game disagreed, including Chris McGuin.
CHRIS MCGUIN: And I hope he wakes up tomorrow morning and eats a bowl of his words 'cause the Caps are Stanley Cup champions. D.C. has finally done it. It's been almost 30 years, long time coming.
CIAMMACHILLI: Washington fans can finally breathe a sigh of relief. The sun might shine a little brighter in D.C. today. The flowers might smell a little sweeter, too. The Capitals will return home not just with the Stanley Cup but a new vision of hope for the future of the city's sports teams. For NPR News, I'm Esther Ciammachilli in Washington.
(SOUNDBITE OF LOS MARIACHIS' "WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS (INSTRUMENTAL)") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.