Michael Finewax

Hockey Daily Dose

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Caps One Win Away from Cup

Tuesday, June 5, 2018


The Washington Capitals are one game away from winning the Stanley Cup. It will be their first Stanley Cup and the first time the city of Washington D.C. has won a championship in any of the four major sports since 1992 when Washington won the Super Bowl. D.C. United has won three championships since but we are talking about the four majors.

 

The Capitals defeated the Vegas Golden Knights 6-2 to take a commanding 3-1 series lead with Game 5 in Las Vegas Thursday.

 

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The game seemed to be decided early on as James Neal hit the post early in the first with the whole net at his disposal and the Golden Knights seemed to fade after that as they had dominated in the early going.

 

T.J. Oshie, who struggled most of the season and ended up with only 18 goals, his worst performance in six seasons, opened the scoring on the power play with his eighth of the post-season to give the Capitals a 1-0 lead at the 9:54 mark of the first period.

 

Tom Wilson doubled the lead when he potted his fifth of the season as he passed the puck to Nicklas Backstrom, got in front of the net and received a nice return pass from the Swedish center, putting the puck past Fleury.

 

It looked like it would remain 2-0 heading into the intermission but Devante Smith-Pelly scored his sixth of the playoffs and second in two games with only 20.5 seconds remaining, taking all the air out of the Golden Knights as they headed into the dressing room.

 

 

The Capitals scored once in the second when John Carlson blasted a shot off a beautiful feed from Evgeny Kuznetsov to make it 4-0 with less than five minutes to go in the second. It was a power play effort and only the 14th shot on Fleury to that point in the game.

 

Fleury was considered the top candidate for the Conn Smythe Trophy awarded to the best player in the playoffs before the start of the Final but he has allowed 16 goals in his last four games on only 103 shots. He had a mediocre stretch in the series against San Jose when he gave up 14 goals in four games between Games 2-5 but he bounced back then and could do the same in this series. Fleury ended the night giving up six goals on 23 shots in taking his third straight loss and fifth of the playoffs.

 

The Golden Knights tried to get back into the game in the third and scored twice in a row to make a game of it as Neal and Reilly Smith each scored to cut the lead to 4-2 with 7:34 to go in the third but Michal Kempny ended the threat with his second of the playoffs 1:13 after the Smith goal. Kempny was a great pickup from the Blackhawks at the trade deadline, as the Capitals only had to give up a third round pick for the now top-four blueliner.

 

Brett Connolly with his sixth, completed the scoring for Washington.

 

Tempers flared near the end of the contest as Deryk Engelland and Ryan Reaves of Vegas and Oshie of Washington, all took misconducts with 2:16 to go as there was plenty of pushing and shoving.

 

Kuznetsov increased his scoring lead as he had four assists to give him 12 goals and 31 points, five ahead of his teammate Alex Ovechkin who had one assist in the win.

 

Nicklas Backstrom had three helpers in the win as he jumped into third place among scoring leaders with 22 points.

 

 

Braden Holtby was outstanding yet again and he deserves plenty of Conn Smythe consideration. He stopped 28 shots and picked up his 15th win in the 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs, tops in the league.

 

The Capitals blocked 24 shots to only eight for Vegas.

 

 

In addition to his goal and misconduct, Oshie chipped in with a pair of assists.

 

Shea Theodore was a minus-three on the night.

 

Colin Miller suffered a broken nose late in the game but finished the contest.

 

The Stanley Cup will make its first appearance in Las Vegas for Game 5 as the Capitals could clinch. Vegas needs some more magic if they hope to extend the series back to Washington.



Michael Finewax is entering his 13th season as the Senior Hockey Writer and Editor for Rotoworld. You can follow him on Twitter @mfinewaxhockey.
Email :Michael Finewax



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