(WINDSOR, ON) Evgeny Kuznetsov’s 4 assists powered the Washington Capitols to a 6-2 victory over the Las Vegas Golden Knights Monday, for the Caps 3rd straight win. With a 3-1 strangle hold on the series Washington now stands only 1 victory away from the franchise’s first NHL Stanley Cup in their 44 year history.
Braden Holtby knocked away 28 of 30 Vegas shots on goal to frustrate the expansion team, that had everyone believing would do the unthinkable and raise the Stanley Cup in their debut season. Alternately, although it takes an entire team to win or lose all eyes are on Vegas goal tender Marc-Andre Fluery, who previously was the Con Smythe Trophy front runner, as the the scapegoat for the latest loss in allowing 6 shots of only 23 tries to get past him.
But Las Vegas coach Gerard Gallant defended his netminder, in stating that 5 of the goals were basically in wide open nets that Fleury had no real chance of stopping.
T. J Oshie, Tom Wilson and Devante Smith-Pelley scored opened the scoring 3-0 in the first period to put the game out of reach early. Smith-Pelley’s game winner, which he roofed over Fluery with 20 seconds left in the first period, was more than a tad sweeter than his empty net insurance goal in the 3rd period of game two.
In a spill over from the president Donald Trump’s denial of the NHL champion Philadelphia Eagles ceremonial visit to the White House, Smith-Pelley has stated he will not accompany the team should they end this series to claim the cup this in today’s pivotal game 5.
John Carlson, Michal Kempny and Brett Connolly also scored for the Caps in secure this all important win for the home team. James Neal and Reilly Smith finally found the back of the Caps net in the 3rd period in a losing effort.
Not only is Washington 1 game away from being the NHL champions they can final shake of the 9 or so straight seasons of exiting the play-offs in the first or 2nd round during the Alex Avechkin and Nicklas Backstrom era.
Although Kuznetsov’s league high 31 points in this play-offs suggest he is the obvious play-off MVP are the, Ovechkin’s 14 goals are tied for the lead. Thus the captain is also in contention for MVP if the Caps can close the door in the Golden Knights which they must attempt to do on the road.
The series now swings back to the T-Mobile Arena in sin-city, where the glitzy LasVegas fans and game day operations are hoping to revive their would be cinderalla franchise. However, no team has loss after being up 3-1 since the 1942 Detroit Red Wings, so the champagne should be flowing in one of the next two games.