Stanley Cup Final: Game 3
Vegas Golden Knights at Washington Capitals (Series tied 1-1)
Saturday, June 2, 2018 - 8:00 p.m. ET
Capital One Arena - Washington, DC
Watch: NBCSN - NBC Sports App - NBCSports.com
SBN participant blogs: Knights on Ice - Japers Rink
Vegas Golden Knights Keys to Victory
- Score First: Simply put the most important thing the Knights can do is score first. This is the Caps’ first Stanley Cup Final home game since 1998, and the crowd is going to be predictably nuts. Vegas desperately needs to score first in this game to take the crowd out of the game and grab momentum. If the Caps can come out with one of their patented quick starts, it could be a very loud and long night for Vegas. But if the Knights can score quickly, we might see the Caps go into their own heads and struggle.
- Special Teams: The Caps have one of the best power plays in the league and the second best throughout the playoffs. Teams flounder against them when they take dumb penalties, and that’s exactly what Vegas did in game two. The Golden Knights took multiple penalties that led to goals in the last game, one while down a man and one at four-on-four. Vegas has looked like the better team at full strength, but have struggled with other scenarios. On top of this, Vegas had five power play chances including a five-on-three and only converted on one of them. When the Knights weren’t able to score on the two-man advantage, the momentum flipped to the Caps who dominated the rest of the game. Not scoring on the extended man advantage was effectively what lost the game for the Knights.
- Speed Demons: Vegas is the faster team in the series, evidenced in Game 1 when they out-chanced the Caps and created odd-man rushes and high danger scoring chances off of rushes and counter-attacks. In Game 2 they played a more physical game and were not able to generate any odd-man chances, so they weren’t able to take advantage of any hectic rebounds. Braden Holtby came up with some big saves, but he was also leaving some juicy rebounds. If the Golden Knights play a physical game tonight, the Caps will come out ahead. The Caps have the bigger players and more physical players. The Knights can slow down to play a physical Caps game, but the Caps aren’t able to speed up and match their opponents if the Knights play fast. - Zeke Lukow
Washington Capitals Keys to Victory
- “The Save” and many more: Braden Holtby’s miraculous diving save on Alex Tuch late in the third period sealed the game for the Washington Capitals but Holtby’s heroics extended past one save. He stopped 37 shots and was only beaten by deadly accurate shots by James Neal and Shea Theodore. He’s gone 4-4 this postseason at home. The Capitals success in Game 3 may rest on his shoulders.
- Kuznetsoff, Kuznetson? Evgeny Kuznetsov took a rough hit in Game 2 and missed most of the game with what looked like a left arm injury. Kuznetsov’s obvious discomfort was not a great sight for Caps fans but Kuznetsov did participate in practice on Friday afternoon. Head coach Barry Trotz lists Kuznetsov as (surprise!) a game-time decision. Kuznetsov leads the Capitals and all playoff performers with 25 points (11 goals, 14 assists). He could be a possible Conn Smythe candidate if he were to finish this series. His presence in Game 3 would be a boost for Washington.
- Face-off Failure: The Capitals have to be better on the draw in Game 3. Washington lost the advantage in Game 1 with 48% but that disadvantage grew in Game 2 as they won just 42% of their draws. Washington finished 13th overall in the regular season at 50.4%. An advantage on the draw, especially in the offensive zone, could pay dividends for the Capitals in Game 3. - Justin Lape