Stanley Cup Final 2018: 7 things to know from Capitals' comeback Game 2 win over Golden Knights
It was the Golden Knights who squeaked out a victory to open the series, but the Capitals bounced back with a huge 3-2 win in Game 2. Here’s what you need to know.
Vegas got off to another quick start
The Golden Knights got the first goal of the game again on Wednesday, marking the ninth time in nine games this postseason that they’ve struck first on home ice. All of those nine goals have come in the first period, and six of them have come in the opening eight minutes.
There’s been plenty said about how good the Knights have been in Vegas all year long, and that home cookin’ has tasted pretty good throughout the playoffs too. They’re a team that always seems to feed off the raucous atmosphere and come out of the gate pretty strong.
Kuznetsov lost to injury on McNabb hit
Capitals forward Evgeny Kuznetsov was injured on a first period hit by Brayden McNabb and didn’t return to the game. Kuznetsov appeared to suffer some sort of injury to his left arm or shoulder and he was clearly in a good amount of pain instantly.
The team officially gave the injury an “upper body” designation (classic hockey) but if it’s serious, that could be a huge blow for the Caps. Heading into Wednesday’s game, Kuznetsov was tops among all Washington players in postseason scoring with 25 points.
Eller steps up for Capitals
If there’s a silver lining to be had regarding the Kuznetsov injury, it’s that Lars Eller played much better in Game 2. After finishing the first game a minus-3, the Washington center recorded a goal and two primary assists on Wednesday.
Eller proved to be a hugely important depth piece for the Capitals earlier in these playoffs when Nicklas Backstrom went down with a hand injury. Eller filled in admirably on the top six and he might have to do it again, so seeing him get back to being productive is a good sign for the Caps.
Ovi now has a Stanley Cup Final goal
Alex Ovechkin got his first Stanley Cup Final goal with a second period power-play strike. It was a pretty sequence that involved some swift puck movement and a fantastic adjustment by Ovi, who was able to get his hands across the body to fire a shot that beat Marc-Andre Fleury.
That’s Ovechkin’s 13th goal of the postseason, putting him just a single tally behind Winnipeg’s Mark Scheifele for the most in these playoffs.
Too many penalties for the Caps
The Capitals gave the Golden Knights five power-play opportunities in this game, including an extended 5-on-3 chance in the third period while clinging to a one-goal lead. A number of those penalties came as the result of breakdowns or just straight-up dumb plays that were avoidable.
Luckily for Washington, the Golden Knights were only able to convert once on the man-advantage. It’s not a fate the Capitals want to continue to tempt moving forward in the series, though. They’ll have to play smarter in Game 3 and beyond, especially if the games remain as tight as the first few.
Holtby and Caps defense stands up
Two things that were rather concerning about the Capitals’ performance in Game 1: Braden Holtby (he looked shaky and wasn’t exceptionally sound positionally) and their defensive performance around him. The Caps were outworked down low and gave up too many opportunities in the scoring areas around Holtby during Monday’s game, but they were much better during Game 2.
Vegas got their chances during the third period, but Washington did a great job of protecting and defending the inner slot through the first few periods. The Golden Knights didn’t have much in the way of attempts from the high-danger areas through the first 40 minutes.
The only two goals that Holtby surrendered came on a filthy snipe from the circle by James Neal and a shot from the point by Shea Theodore, who caught Holtby while he was being screened. The Washington goalie made 37 saves, including this one to preserve the lead in the final few minutes.
That’s a save that has the potential to be remembered for a long, long time.
Brooks Orpik had the game-winning goal
Yes, seriously. It’s his first goal of any kind since February of 2016. Hockey is so dumb sometimes.