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The Latest: Bettman defends NHL expansion draft in Vegas

(AP Photo/John Locher)

LAS VEGAS (AP) The Latest from Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Washington Capitals and the Vegas Golden Knights (all times local):

6:05 p.m.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is defending the expansion draft that loaded first-year franchise Vegas with talent.

The Golden Knights were the surprise of the NHL this season, winning the Pacific Division and rolling all the way to the Stanley Cup Final against Washington. Critics have suggested the expansion draft was too generous for the new franchise, which saw strong play from veterans including goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, James Neal and others.

Bettman was asked about it during an NBC interview during the first intermission of Game 5 and said the league's "competitive balance shows anything is possible." He noted the turnaround seasons this year by Colorado and New Jersey.

Said Bettman: "If you're passionate about your team, you have hope for every season."

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6 p.m.

The Washington Capitals are outshooting the Vegas Golden Knights so far but the teams are scoreless after the first period of Game 5 in the Stanley Cup Final.

It marked the third scoreless period of the series.

Braden Holtby had to make just seven saves for the Capitals. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 10 shots for the Golden Knights, who face elimination.

Washington leads the series 3-1, one win away from the first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

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5:45 p.m.

Hits are outnumbering shots so far through a scoreless first period in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Washington and Vegas combined for just seven shots while landing a total of 19 hits in the early going. The Capitals had blocked four shots while the Golden Knights blocked a pair of pucks before a shot even got to Marc-Andre Fleury.

Washington came up empty on a power play, though Alex Ovechkin rang a shot off the post.

Washington is up 3-1, a win away from its first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

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5:25 p.m.

Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final is under way in Las Vegas.

With the Golden Knights scoring only five goals in the previous three games of the Stanley Cup Final, Vegas coach Gerard Gallant shook up his lineup.

Veteran forwards Ryan Reaves and Ryan Carpenter were scratched, while William Carrier and David Perron were in uniform. Carrier hadn't played since Game 5 of the second round against San Jose, missing 10 straight games. Perron played in the Final's first three games before sitting out Game 4.

The Caps have a 3-1 series lead and are trying to clinch their first championship in 43 seasons.

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5:15 p.m.

Boys will be boys.

Washington star Alex Ovechkin skated onto the Vegas side of the rink during pregame warmups, narrowly avoiding Marc-Andre Fleury as the goaltender was stretching along the boards before Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final.

The goaltender skated across the red line and toward the Washington superstar before retreating back to his side. Later, though, Fleury got even by slashing Ovechkin's legs as they skated past each other.

Earlier in the series, the veterans acted like kids squirting water on each other's side of the red line.

The Caps have a 3-1 series lead and are trying to clinch their first championship in 43 NHL seasons.

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4:50 p.m.

Hundreds of fans braved 97-degree heat and assembled again in the plaza directly outside T-Mobile Arena several hours before Vegas hosted Washington in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final.

As game time approached, the crowd got larger as it swelled with fans without tickets. A majority of the crowd was wearing Golden Knights garb, but the sea of people included a large portion of red-clad Washington Capitals fans occasionally chanting "We want the Cup!"

The Caps have a 3-1 series lead and are trying to clinch their first championship in 43 NHL seasons.

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4:30 p.m.

The Washington Capitals are on the brink of raising the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history.

Alex Ovechkin and his Caps are taking the ice for Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final with a 3-1 series lead after three consecutive victories over the Vegas Golden Knights.

While past Washington teams have a long history of struggles in closeout games, these Caps have won all three of their potential closeout games. If they can do it again, the Caps will clinch the first championship in 43 NHL seasons for a franchise that began play in 1974.

The Knights have never lost four consecutive games in their inaugural season. They won the Final opener, but have been outscored 12-5 since.

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4:20 p.m.

Willie O'Ree, the first black NHL player, says the player who wins the award named in his honor will have displayed hockey and life skills.

The NHL will give the first Willie O'Ree Community Hero Award later this month in Las Vegas. O'Ree broke the league's color barrier 60 years ago with the Boston Bruins and overcame blindness in his right eye.

O'Ree spoke ahead of Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, where Washington took a 3-1 lead on the road to Las Vegas.

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More Stanley Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/StanleyCupFinals

Updated June 7, 2018

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