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December 14, 2018

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Blog: Nate Schmidt’s late goals sink Capitals

Schmidt scores first, second of season to beat his former team

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Steve Marcus

Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt (88) celebrates his goal in the third period during a game against the Washington Capitals at T-Mobile Arena Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018.

Updated Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018 | 9:44 p.m.

 

Nate Schmidt didn't get to play the Washington Capitals earlier in the season because of a suspension.

He made Tuesday's opportunity count.

The Vegas defenseman scored his first of the season on the power play with 1:24 left in the game, then an empty-netter with 6.9 seconds left to give the Golden Knights a 5-3 victory over the Capitals on Tuesday at T-Mobile Arena.

Vegas started the third period by killing off the final 42 seconds in Ryan Reaves' major penalty, then turned to offense. First it was Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, redirecting a Brayden McNabb shot at 2:33 of the third to tie the game at 2-2. Then 16 seconds later, Cody Eakin potted a rebound off Oscar Lindberg's stick to tie the game.

Eakin's goal was his 11th of the year, tops on the team, and his 200th career point.

It was Lindberg's second primary assist of the game after entering the contest with no points in eight appearances this season.

Jakub Vrana scored the Capitals' third goal of the game, his second, with 8:20 remaining on a one-timer with a feed from Evgeny Kuznetsov to tie the game.

Washington entered the game with a 27.7 power-play percentage, which was sixth in the NHL. The Capitals did not score on any of their four power plays, which included Reaves' five-minute major.

Come back to lasvegassun.com later for more coverage.

Ovechkin scores, Reaves tossed in second period

Alex Ovechkin did what he does best.

He was all alone to the right of Vegas' net, and when Madison Bowey's shot went wide left and bounced to an open Ovechkin, he back-handed home his 20th of the season at 11:42 of the second period to give the Capitals a 2-1 lead.

Ryan Reaves continued bulldozer-like approach to the game, and was assessed a five-minute major for interference and a game misconduct for a late hit on Tom Wilson, who was down for a considerable amount of time.

The Golden Knights killed off 4:12 of power play time to end the frame.

Washington was called for a strange penalty almost halfway through the second when Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nick Holden got tangled up in the corner and lost their sticks. Holden's stick found itself wedged in the glass, and Kuznetsoz grabbed it thinking it was his, and was called for illegal equipment to send Vegas to the power play.

The Golden Knights did score on the power play. Since Reaves scored in the first period, Vegas looked disjointed, and did not score on any of their next three power plays.

The Capitals led in shots on goal after two periods, 18-17.

Reaves steals show in first period

It's hard to say what had T-Mobile Arena more fired up: Ryan Reaves' goal or his hits on Tom Wilson.

Reaves opened the game's scoring, netting a power-play goal at the 2:30 mark of the first period. Stationed at his usual spot in front of the net with the man advantage, Cody Eakin joined him below the Washington defenders. Eakin collected a rebound from an Oscar Lindberg shot, gave it to Reaves, who threw it past Braden Holtby.

Reaves also put two monster hits on Wilson, and took one from Wilson. The two spent a good portion of the period jawing at each other.

The scratch of Max Pacioretty shifted Lindberg into his place both on the second line and on the power play. William Karlsson moved up to the top unit with Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith, Alex Tuch and Colin Miller. Reaves, Eakin, Lindberg, Nate Schmidt and Shea Theodore made up the second quintet.

It was Lindberg's first point of the season, and Reaves' sixth goal, one shy of his career-high.

With 4:27 left, Brett Connolly blocked a Shea Theodore shot, took it the other way and fed a pass to Jakub Vrana to tie the game.

Pacioretty out

Vegas forward Max Pacioretty was not on the ice for warmups in advance of Tuesday's game against the Washington Capitals. Coach Gerard Gallant said he has not been feeling well, and left Monday's practice early and did not skate at Tuesday's optional practice.

Oscar Lindberg will slide into the second line alongside Alex Tuch and Cody Eakin. Lindberg does not have a point in games this season and last played Nov. 19 against Calgary.

Pacioretty is tied for the team lead with 10 goals and had 13 points in his last 10 games.

Pre-game

The last time the Washington Capitals were on Vegas ice they skated off with the Stanley Cup.

The Capitals return to T-Mobile Arena at 7 p.m. today in the first home game for the Golden Knights against the defending champions. The Capitals won the first meeting this season 5-2 on Oct. 10 in Washington.

"Every game's got some piece of emotion to it," Vegas defenseman Nate Schmidt said. "This one may or may not have a little bit more than usual, given the current climate of how we've played against this team recently."

Schmidt, who was chosen from Washington in the expansion draft last year, was suspended for the Oct. 10 game, making today his first game against the Capitals this season.

Schmidt said it will be a little harder than normal to calm the pregame jitters before this game.

"It is tougher given a situation like this," he said. "These are the type of games you get excited for."

The Golden Knights didn't downplay that this is one of the bigger home games of the season so far. The Capitals lead the Metropolitan Division and won seven in a row before falling Sunday.

The Capitals' Alex Ovechkin is his usual self, tied for fourth in the NHL with 19 goals. Teammate Nicklas Backstrom has been playing some of the best hockey his career, with a team-high 33 points, and John Carlson has 24 assists.

In short, this year's Capitals team appears just as dangerous as last year's championship squad.

"It's just another game, but obviously there's a little bit more meaning behind it, being here in front of the home crowd," Vegas defenseman Shea Theodore said. "There's definitely going to be a little bit more oomph to the game."

Emerson’s Prediction: Golden Knights 5, Capitals 4

Season record for predictions: Keefer 5-4, Emerson 1-2

Pick to score the Golden Knights’ first goal: Reilly Smith

Season record for first goal scored: Keefer 1-for-9, Emerson 0-for-3

TV: AT&T SportsNet (DirecTV 684, Cox 1313, CenturyLink 1760)

Radio: Fox Sports 1340 AM and 98.9 FM

Betting line: Golden Knights minus-129, Sharks plus-135; over/under: 6 (minus-110, plus-101)

Golden Knights (14-13-1) (7-3-1 home)

Coach: Gerard Gallant (second season)

Goals leader: Jonathan Marchessault, Cody Eakin, Max Pacioretty (10)

Assists leader: Reilly Smith (13)

Expected goalie: Marc-Andre Fleury (2.38 gaa, .913 save percentage)

Washington Capitals (15-8-3) (7-4-1 road)

Coach: Todd Reirden (first season)

Goals leader: Alex Ovechkin (19)

Assists leader: John Carlson (24)

Expected goalie: Braden Holtby (2.94 gaa, .910 save percentage)

Golden Knights expected game day roster

Forwards (12): Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, William Carrier, Ryan Carpenter, Daniel Carr, Cody Eakin, William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault, Tomas Nosek, Max Pacioretty, Ryan Reaves, Reilly Smith, Alex Tuch

Defensemen (6): Deryk Engelland, Nick Holden, Brayden McNabb, Colin Miller, Nate Schmidt, Shea Theodore

Goalies (2): Marc-Andre Fleury and Malcolm Subban

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