Suddenly, the NHL has a dynasty - or as close to one as you can get these days.

It's the Detroit Red Wings, who have won two straight Stanley Cups and made the finals three of the past four years. Following their second straight sweep in the finals, the Red Wings are now talking three-peat."It's a nice feeling winning back to back," Brendan Shanahan said after the Red Wings wrapped up the finals by beating the Washington Capitals 4-1 Tuesday night. "It would be better to win three."

No team has won three straight Stanley Cups since the New York Islanders took four in a row from 1980-83. Even the great Edmonton Oiler teams of the '80s couldn't do it, although they did win five in seven years.

Dynastic possibilities for the Red Wings? Steve Yzerman thinks the ingredients are there for his team to be competitive for many years.

"I expect they will look to bring the guys back for another year," Yzerman said. "I expect this team to be very competitive again for the next year and the years after just because the core of our team is very youthful - and I expect that they'll stay together."

The Red Wings became the first team to win consecutive championships since the Pittsburgh Penguins did it 1991-92. They're the first NHL team to sweep consecutive finals since the Islanders did it in 1982 and 1983.

In winning the Stanley Cup, the Red Wings finished a bittersweet season for themselves and a tumultuous year for the NHL.

The Red Wings dedicated their season to Vladimir Konstantinov and Sergei Mnatsakanov, two team members who were disabled in an auto accident following last year's Stanley Cup victory.

The wheelchair-bound Konstantinov was present at the MCI Center to watch the clincher and joined his teammates on the ice as they celebrated with the Stanley Cup.

"There's no speech you can come up with or story you can tell that equates anywhere near what that team has gone through," Washington coach Ron Wilson said.

In an extended hockey season marked by an unprecedented break for the Olympics, which produced early exits by Canada and the United States and a trashed suite, the Red Wings brought some constancy with a second straight title.

Even though they were the defending champions, the Red Wings actually weren't necessarily the favorites. Not only had they lost one of their top defenseman in Konstantinov, there were other factors that impacted them during the season.

Most notably, the trade of their Conn Smythe-winning goaltender Mike Vernon and the absence of superstar free agent Sergei Fedorov, who waged a long contract battle with the Red Wings before joining them late in the season.

With a record-tying 165 ties during the season, the NHL showed how balanced it was. The close play continued in the playoffs.

Such teams as New Jersey, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh - the 1-2-3 teams in the Eastern Conference - made early exits. That opened the door for the fourth-seeded Capitals to advance to the finals. Along the way, the Capitals eliminated the Sabres and goaltender Dominik Hasek, most everyone's choice to win the most valuable player award after a 13-shutout season.

Nothing was ever official, however, until the Red Wings won four straight from Washington in the finals.