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WASHINGTON CAPITALS 3 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 1 (2-1 WSH)

The Capitals had a few strong chances early including one that actually got past Fleury. However, a goalie interference penalty brought the goal back and put the Golden Knights on the power play. Vegas’ best chance came when Jonathan Marchessault joined the play off a change and hit the post. The period came to a close scoreless, but it certainly was not without its chances.

The 2nd period was the one that got away from the Golden Knights. They gave up chance after chance after chance on a scramble in front of the goal and eventually Alex Ovechkin cashed in. Then another goal later in the period put the Golden Knights in a massive hole.

The Golden Knights were gifted a goal early in the 3rd to get back within one, but yet another mistake by Shea Theodore hands the Capitals the goal right back late.

Washington now leads the series 2-1 and the Golden Knights have their backs as close to the wall as they’ve ever had for Monday’s Game 4.

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Washington Capitals in Game 3 of Stanley Cup Final of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at Capital One Arena.

  • A team that’s learned from and corrected mistakes all season long hasn’t in the past two games. Why?
  • Golden Knights 2nd line not getting the job done on either end.

Three Stars
*** Brayden Holtby
** Jay Beagle
* Evgeny Kuznetsov

Golden Knights Reserves Become Fans Like Everyone Else

We know they’d rather be on the ice, but the VGK healthy scratches maintain the right attitude. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Imagine this. You’ve worked your entire life to become a professional hockey player, make it to the National Hockey League, and to eventually play for the Stanley Cup. Then, your team makes it there, coach brings down the lineup card, and your name is not on it. Rather than play in the game, you are destined to sit in the press box wearing a suit and watch. Sounds like the worst, right? Actually…

It’s awesome. When you’re sitting upstairs and we score a goal guys are jumping and down, hugging each other. That’s what it’s all about. Everyone is a part of the same goal. -Brad Hunt

Hunt hasn’t played since April 7th in Calgary, the Golden Knights last regular season game.

Guys like myself, Jonny (Merrill), and others who haven’t played in awhile, we all want everyone to do so good because we know it’s a chance at something we may never get a chance to do again. It’s been so special. -Hunt

Talking to Hunt, fellow defenseman Jon Merrill, and others, you’d think these guys average 20 minutes a night in the postseason.

I’m honestly more nervous when I’m not playing. When you’re out there playing you’re not thinking about anything, you’re just playing. When you’re upstairs you’re just a fan, you want the boys to win so bad. -Jon Merrill

Golden Misfits? More like Nervous Nellies.

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Golden Knights “Didn’t Execute” On The 5-on-3 And It Cost Them Game 2

5-on-3’s changes games whether goals are scored or not. Vegas was on the wrong side of it in Game 2. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

John Carlson called it a “momentum shifter,” Barry Trotz said he was “praying like crazy”, and Jonathan Marchessault said “they played it well.” The Golden Knights unsuccessful 5-on-3 power play in the 3rd period was a major turning point of Game 2.

Definitely when you have a 5-on-3 in the playoffs you have to score, and I think that’s on us. -Jonathan Marchessault

Early in the 3rd period, Tom Wilson took his normal residency in the box for an interference penalty on Brayden McNabb. This gave Vegas a two-minute power play with 16:47 remaining in the game.

Two faceoffs, a stoppage in play, and a Colin Miller shot attempt later, the Capitals made a second blunder. Lars Eller was caught hooking Miller, creating a two-man advantage for Vegas.

I was praying like crazy. They’ve done a really good job in those situations. They’re well prepared and they have a high commitment level. -Barry Trotz, Washington head coach

For the next 1:08, Vegas did very little and only shot once on net.

The chances are there. Really, we didn’t execute them. You look at it back, and everything we wanted to do was there. We just didn’t execute the play right. We didn’t do it quick enough. It was guys not making the right plays at the right time. -Gerard Gallant

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Stanley Cup Final Game 2: Golden Knights vs. Washington Capitals – Photo Gallery – May 30th, 2018

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Stagnant 3rd Period Offense (And An Amazing Save) Sends The Series Back To Washington Tied 1-1

There wasn’t enough in front of the goal either. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

For five periods of hockey in the Stanley Cup Final the Golden Knights offense had been relentless. Creating turnovers in the neutral zone, wreaking havoc on the forecheck, and transitioning from defense to offense quickly. Unfortunately in the series’ sixth period, playing from behind the entire 3rd period of Game 2, none of these things were true for Vegas.

We’ve pushed in a lot of series, we’ve pushed, and pushed back hard and we’ve had success but you aren’t going to be able to do it every time. The goalie is going to make great saves, but you just have to be ready for the next game. -Nate Schmidt

The difference tonight was the push wasn’t strong enough to break through the wall the Capitals had set up through the neutral zone and into the Golden Knights attacking zone. Aside from the special teams chances, Vegas was one-and-done far too often, they had way too many failed entries, and the forecheck was not creating turnovers like it has all season long.

They were just sitting back waiting for us. We got some good chances in the 3rd period, but you’ve got to bury them. -Jonathan Marchessault

The chances were not making it to Holtby though. The Golden Knights went more than 10 minutes from 13:58 to 3:38 remaining in the 3rd period without a single shot on goal.

Washington is a stout defensive team when they have the lead because of their strong neutral zone play. They took away a lot of the Golden Knights transition game through the center of the ice forcing Vegas to either make a difficult pass or dump the puck into the zone. The Capitals were much more careful with the puck giving it away just four times in the game compared to their nine in Game 1. Also, the Golden Knights forecheck was not creating as many takeaways. They came up with just one the entire 3rd period by a forward and just three total.

We lost a 3-2 hockey game, Tuch has a wide-open net with two minutes left with a chance to tie it up. We didn’t play our best game, but we had 39 shots and we still created a lot. It’s one of those games where Holtby played real well and he was the difference in the hockey game. -Gerard Gallant

It will be interesting to see if Gallant is singing the same tune tomorrow after watching the film. Braden Holtby played well and made one of the best saves any goalie has made on a Golden Knight shot all season, but Vegas simply didn’t do enough in the 3rd period to overcome the deficit.

It’s just the way it went tonight. -Marchessault

On to DC.

WASHINGTON CAPITALS 3 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 2 (1-1)

The Golden Knights came out looking like the much faster team. They sustained a majority of the pressure for the first eight minutes if the game. That led to the first goal of the game, an incredible one from James Neal. Neal batted a puck out of the air around a defenseman and then took a perfect shot off the post and in. Washington climbed back in getting the game under control and eventually scoring 4-on-4.

A penalty-ridden 2nd period saw the Capitals score two goals to take a 3-1 lead. Vegas came up with a huge penalty kill and eventually went on a power play of their own. Shea Theodore’s wrist shot found its way through a ton of traffic and into the net to restore the Golden Knights life in the game. 3-2 heading into the 2nd intermission.

The Golden Knights drew a penalty early in the 3rd and then backed it up with another one which put them on a 5-on-3. They were unable to create much for the 1:09 of the two man advantage and then Braden Holtby made all the saves to kill it off. Vegas could not generate much of anything until very late. With two minutes left Alex Tuch had a wide open net, got the shot off clean, but what may be the save of the year by Holtby kept it out. The series is now tied and heads to Washington for Game 3 on Saturday.

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Washington Capitals in Game 2 of Stanley Cup Final of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena.

  • How did Washington snuff out the Golden Knights attack for the entirety of the 3rd period?
  • Not enough created in the biggest moment of the game, the 5-on-3.

Three Stars
*** James Neal
** Lars Eller
* Braden Holtby

Golden Knights Not Satisfied With Game 1 Performance

Just win baby. Are we allowed to use that? (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The last time the Golden Knights gave up four goals and won a home game was on November 24th vs San Jose. The only other time Vegas allowed four at home and won was sixth game of the season when they beat Buffalo. In both games the Golden Knights led 4-1, watched their lead disappear, and needed overtime to seal the victory. Between those two games, the lead changed hands just one time.

Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final was not the best time to once again give up four goals at home, but the outcome was the same as those two early season games, which in theory should be good enough and make everyone wearing steel grey happy. It didn’t.

For us, we’ve got to make sure we do a better job managing the puck. You see what happens when they start their cycle game when they start getting the zone and trying to make plays. It just goes to show you that we need to be better defensively in some areas where they were exploiting time and space. That’s something we’ve done really well the last couple of series, taking that away from teams. -Nate Schmidt

I don’t think either team was happy with the way they played. Hopefully, we can play a little tighter in the defensive zone. We let up four goals it’s going to be hard to win every game. -William Karlsson

Being “better” was common theme from just about every player in the Golden Knights locker room. Better in the neutral zone, better on the puck, better in their own end, just be better. None of these terms are uncommon to hear in a locker room following a game or the day after, but hearing them after a Stanley Cup Final win says a lot about the Golden Knights.

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Nosek And Theodore Talk About The Goal That Won Game 1

Tomas Nosek has a knack for the big goal. He scored the 1st goal in T-Mobile Arena history too. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Tomas Nosek’s Game 1 winning goal was a Stanley Cup moment we’ll see for years to come. The men behind the tiebreaker were understandably laughing, smiling and in quite the jovial mood the following day.

In those type of games you just want to get pucks on the net and create a rebound. He made a good play popping out and a lane just kinda opened right up, and I found it. -Shea Theodore

Theodore’s first thought was to shoot the puck but hesitated because his aim was off earlier in the game.

A couple of plays earlier I tried walking in and had a terrible shot that missed the net. You go through ups and downs throughout games. -Theodore

Nosek created open space off to the side of the net, allowing Theodore to make a beautiful pass.

At this time of the year no shot is a bad shot. You want to get pucks to the net and create rebounds. You want to create some havoc around there. -Theodore

The 25-year-old Czech showed immense emotions in Game 1, something Golden Knights fans don’t often see from #92. At one point in the game, Nosek skated back to the bench and repeatedly slammed his stick on the boards. It was clear he was frustrated about something.

It was probably after the Oshie hit. There’s a lot of emotions in a game and sometimes you need relief a little bit. -Tomas Nosek

Is that why Nosek erupted in celebration after scoring his game-winning goal?

Maybe, yeah. It’s the Stanley Cup Final, you don’t get a chance to play in it every day. When you score a goal, and you help your team win a game. It’s perfect. -Nosek

Both players are relishing the moment of playing on the NHL’s biggest stage. They’re feeling confident and ready to make an impact in Game 2. Nosek and Theodore are normally reserved on the ice, so fans should appreciate the emotions in the Stanley Cup Finals. Because it’s working.

Golden Knights First Line: “It Was Not Good Enough For Us”

They scored two goals, but described themselves as rusty and “not good enough.” That’s got to be a scary thought for Washington. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights top line has been one of the best in the league all season, both offensively and defensively. Not only have they been terrorizing defenses all season and into the playoffs but they’ve been incredible shutting down the opposition’s top line throughout as well.

Last night in Game 1 it was all going swimmingly for Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson, and Reilly Smith early. At a point in the 2nd period, their line had a 100% Corsi For rating against 12 of the 17 skaters that they had significant time playing against. Karlsson and Smith each had a goal and the line was controlling play pretty much the entire time they were on the ice.

Then, it changed. The Vegas top line was on the ice for the next two Washington goals (Carlson and Wilson) and was no longer taking it to the Capitals. They ended the game with about a 60% Corsi For, a 0 +/- rating, and feeling like they could have been the reason if that game had slipped away.

Little rusty the 1st period. It was not good enough for us. We can’t be on the ice for two goals like we were. One goal was my fault and definitely we need to be tighter defensively and we’ll be ready for Game 2. -Jonathan Marchessault

Part of the reason for the change was the matchups they were facing. Early in the game a majority of their time was spent against the Capitals top offensive line of Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Tom Wilson, but as the game wore on the matchups became more random.

It may not seem it because of the star power on the Capitals, but the Golden Knights have the advantage between the two top lines. Jack Adams finalist Gerard Gallant has the last change in Game 2, he’d be wise to use it to get Marchessault, Karlsson, and Smith on the ice as often as possible against Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, and Wilson.

Luckily for the Golden Knights, the mismatches created an opening for the “fourth” line who played one of its best games of the season.

Vegas’ top line vows to be better in Game 2, if they are and they play most of their minutes against Washington’s top line, the series will likely head to DC at 2-0.

Back And Forth Game 1 Proves Golden Knights Can Thrive Ahead, Behind Or Tied

Last night was not your typical Golden Knights playoff game.

In the Western Conference final, there were no lead changes and Vegas was ahead in the series for 193 minutes. In Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals, the Golden Knights maintained a lead for only 22:50 minutes.

Here’s the breakdown of the four lead changes in Game 1:

Game Tied: (0:00-7:15)
VGK Lead: (7:15-14:41)
Game Tied: (14:41-15:23)
WSH Lead: (15:23-18:19)
Game Tied: (18:19-23:21)
VGK Lead: (23:21-28:29)
Game Tied: (28:29-41:10)
WSH Lead: (41:10-42:41)
Game Tied: (42:41-49:44)
VGK Lead: (49:44-60:00)

The Golden Knights played a lot more time with the lead than Washington did in Game 1. The Capitals had a hard time holding the lead, which led to the scoring being tied for a majority of the night despite the fact that 10 goals were scored.

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