AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
Published Monday, June 4, 2018 | 9:58 a.m.
Updated Monday, June 4, 2018 | 7:59 p.m.
WASHINGTON — Following a disheartening 6-2 loss to the Capitals in Game 4 Monday night at Capital One Arena, the Golden Knights are on the verge of elimination.
Washington took a controlling 3-1 lead in the series with the win, pulling within one game of winning the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history.
The Capitals weathered an early offensive attack in the first 10 minutes, as the Golden Knights applied heavy pressure. Vegas had it’s scoring chances but couldn’t finish them, including James Neal hitting the post on a shot with a wide-open net.
Washington answered with three goals on the next seven shots to take a commanding 3-0 lead after one period.
T.J. Oshie opened the scoring for the Capitals on the power play when he kicked a pass to himself and stuffed it past Marc-Andre Fleury. Tom Wilson added to the lead thanks to a great set-up pass by Evgeny Kuznetsov.
Kuznetsov assisted on four of the Capitals six goals to improve his postseason point total to 31, which is the most by a single player since Evgeni Malkin in 2009.
Facing a 4-0 deficit in the third period, Neal ended Holtby’s shutout bid by roofing a puck from in tight. It was Neal’s sixth goal of the playoffs, and was followed by another late goal by Reilly Smith.
Smith deked around Braden Holtby and lifted the backhand shot over his glove to make it 4-2, but was too little, too late.
The Capitals halted any chance at a comeback with a one-timer goal by Michal Kempny with a little more than six minutes to play. It made the score 5-2 and iced the game. The Capitals would add another power play goal by Brett Connolly with 1:09 remaining.
The Golden Knights head back home to Las Vegas now, facing elimination for the first time ever. Game 5 will be 5 p.m. Wednesday at T-Mobile Arena.
Capitals lead 4-0 after two periods
The Washington Capitals have controlled play throughout, and maintain a dominant 4-0 lead over the Golden Knights after two periods at Capital One Arena.
Defenseman John Carlson scored the only goal of the second period. It was the Capitals’ second power play goal of the game on as many tries, and came off a beautiful pass by Evgeny Kuznetsov.
Kuznetsov has assisted on three of the four Washington goals tonight, giving him 30 points during this postseason — the most by any player since Evgeni Malkin in 2009.
Braden Holtby has stopped all 22 shots by the Golden Knights, and has made multiple impressive saves to maintain a shutout heading into the final period.
Capitals lead 3-0 after one period
If the Golden Knights’ are going to avoid falling behind 3-1 in the Stanley Cup Final, they’re going to need one of the biggest comebacks in final history.
Vegas trails Washington 3-0 after just one period of play Monday night in Washington D.C.
The Golden Knights had an opportunity early to get on the board first when James Neal received the pass and had the entire net to shoot at.
On a power play, Vegas had drawn Capitals goalie Braden Holtby completely out of the net before moving the puck over the Neal, who fired the puck wide of the goal and rang it off the far-side post.
The Golden Knights dominated Washington through the first 10 minutes of the game, but had nothing to show for it, and the Capitals immediately made them pay.
Colin Miller was called for tripping Lars Eller near center ice and T.J. Oshie capitalized with a power play goal seconds later to give Washington an early 1-0 lead.
The Capitals extended their lead later in the period when Evgeny Kuznetsov danced around the Golden Knights’ defense and fed the puck in front to Tom Wilson, who slipped it past Marc-Andre Fleury’s left skate to make it 2-0.
Devante Smith-Pelly scored a third goal in the closing minutes of the period as the Capitals poured it on the Golden Knights 3-0.
Facing a 2-1 series deficit in the Stanley Cup Final, Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant has decided to shuffle his lineup.
Tomas Tatar will be reinserted into the lineup after missing the last five games as a healthy scratch.
“He’s a goal scorer,” Gallant said. “We wanted to change our lineup a little bit, obviously, losing two games in a row. He gives us a little more offense.”
Tatar has scored at least 20 goals in six straight seasons but has struggled in Vegas since the Golden Knights acquired him from Detroit at the trade deadline. He scored a huge goal in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final to give the Golden Knights an early 1-0 lead in Winnipeg. They went on to win four straight.
“He brings offense, he shoots the puck and he’s good for our power play,” Gallant said. “He’s going to play his game and play in our system and work hard. He’s excited to play, that’s for sure.”
The second and third lines have struggled mightily for the Golden Knights against the Capitals. In Game 2 on Saturday, the second line of James Neal, David Perron and Erik Haula was on the ice for all three Capitals goals and failed to muster any offense of their own.
“We didn't play our game the first three, even the one we won,” Tatar said. “We want to be better. Obviously, maybe something we have to change or do better to get back to our game, and that's our focus today."
As for who is coming out of the lineup to make room for Tatar, Gallant wouldn’t say. The drills at morning skate indicated that Alex Tuch will be moving up to the second line with Neal and Haula, and Tatar will skate with Cody Eakin and Ryan Carpenter on the third line.
“I have to play the same way (no matter who I play with),” Tuch said. “I have to play hard, physical and make room for my linemates and play fast and be first on pucks. That’s what I’m supposed to do. If coach wants to make a lineup change, he can but it’s not up to me. I don’t care who I’m playing with. I’ll play goalie if I have to.”
If that holds true, Perron would be the odd man out. Gallant wouldn’t confirm if Perron would be out or not.
“We haven’t played good hockey,” Gallant said. “We have a chance to win the Stanley Cup. We’ve had a great run here and as coaches we do the best we can. Are the decisions always right? No they aren’t, but we do the best we can to try and win.”
Prediction: Golden Knights 2, Capitals 1 OT
Playoffs record for predictions: 11-7
Season record for predictions: 38-26
Puck drops: 5 p.m.
Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.
Radio: Fox Sports 1340 AM and 98.9 FM
TV: NBC (DirecTV 3, Cox 1003, Dish Network 3)
Betting line: Golden Knights plus-105, Total 5.5 minus-120 to the under
Golden Knights playoff record (13-5) (6-3 away)
Coach: Gerard Gallant
Playoffs goal leader: Jonathan Marchessault (8)
Playoffs assist leader: Reilly Smith (16)
Expected goalie: Marc-Andre Fleury (13-5, 1.95 goals against average)
Washington Capitals playoff record (14-8) (5-5 home)
Coach: Barry Trotz
Playoffs goal leader: Alex Ovechkin (14)
Playoffs assist leader: Evgeny Kuznetsov (15)
Expected goalie: Braden Holtby (14-7, 2.13 goals against average)
Golden Knights expected game day roster
Forwards (12): Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Ryan Carpenter, Cody Eakin, Erik Haula, William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault, James Neal, Tomas Nosek, Ryan Reaves, Reilly Smith, Tomas Tatar and Alex Tuch.
Defensemen (6): Deryk Engelland, Brayden McNabb, Colin Miller, Luca Sbisa, Nate Schmidt and Shea Theodore.
Goalies (2): Marc-Andre Fleury and Maxime Lagace