The Washington Capitals are two wins away from the Stanley Cup as they won their first-ever Final game at home, defeating the Vegas Golden Knights 3-1 in Game 3. Braden Holtby stopped 21 shots and earned third star honors as the Caps took a 2-1 series lead.
As was the case with the first two games of this series, the game began with plenty of energy from both teams. An early chance off the stick of Alex Ovechkin on a beautiful pass from Evgeny Kuznetsov was stopped by Marc-Andre Fleury to keep the game scoreless. Around five minutes into the period, a shot was fired on net by Chandler Stephenson that found its way into the net, but it was immediately waved off by the referee. Devante Smith-Pelly came across the crease and made contact with Fleury’s head, negating the goal. Smith-Pelly was called for goaltender interference and headed to the penalty box instead of celebrating a goal. Despite the teams exchanging chances and power play opportunities, the game remained scoreless through the first period. This was only the second scoreless period of the series.
Just a minute and a half in, a flurry of shots rattled Fleury and it was Alex Ovechkin who would find the back of the net to break the scoreless tie. A rebound bounced off Fleury and Ovechkin corralled it and shot a backhand shot while in mid-air to beat the outstretched goaltender. Later in the second, a fortunate bounce for the Capitals sprung a 2-on-1 opportunity and Evgeny Kuznetsov lasered a shot blocker side past Fleury to extend the Capitals’ lead.
Despite a great forecheck by the Capitals early in the third, the Golden Knights would finally find the back of the net 3:29 into the period. Holtby misplayed the puck behind the net and his clearing attempt fell short. The puck trickled to Tomas Nosek who shot on a wide open net to cut the Capitals lead in half.
Around the six minute mark of the third, the Caps regained their two-goal lead. Smith-Pelly chipped the puck in deep into the offensive zone, Jay Beagle’s aggressive forecheck forced a turnover and he delivered a feed to Smith-Pelly out front all alone as he fired a shot over the glove of Fleury for a 3-1 lead. Despite an empty-net effort from the Golden Knights late in the period, the Capitals held on to take the series lead.
Game 4 at Capital One Arena is tomorrow night, and another performance like the one they put on last night will see the Capitals move one win away from the Stanley Cup.