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September 23, 2018

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Capitals top Golden Knights 3-2 to tie Stanley Cup Final series 1-1

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Steve Marcus

Washington Capitals’ Brooks Orpik scores past Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury during the second period in Game 2 of the NHL Stanley Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena Wednesday, May 30, 2018.

Updated Wednesday, May 30, 2018 | 8:02 p.m.

For the first time this postseason, the Golden Knights lost a home game in regulation.

The Washington Capitals topped Vegas 3-2 Wednesday night at T-Mobile Arena to even the Stanley Cup Final series at 1-1.

The Golden Knights were previously 7-1 at home in the playoffs, with the lone loss coming to the San Jose Sharks in double overtime on April 28.

Washington overcame an early 1-0 hole after James Neal got the Golden Knights on the board first with a sniper of a wrist shot over the shoulder of Capitals goalie Braden Holtby.

The Capitals scored three straight, starting with a Lars Eller’s sixth goal of the postseason that resulted from a great pass by defenseman Michal Kempny. Alex Ovechkin scored the first Stanley Cup Final goal of his illustrious career early in the second period to put Washington up 2-1, then Brooks Orpik ended a 220 game scoreless drought to make it 3-1.

Vegas pulled within one goal late in the second period with a power play goal by Shea Theodore.

The Golden Knights had many opportunities to tie the game in the third period, but none better than a 5-on-3 power play that lasted 1:09 early in the frame. Vegas seemed hesitant up two men, and were unable to muster much of a chance.

Capitals lead 3-2 after two periods

Many thought the frantic back-and-forth play of Game 1 in the Stanley Cup Final would subside in the series’ second game, but they were wrong.

The Capitals lead the Golden Knights 3-2 after two periods of play that have been filled with scoring chance after scoring chance.

Alex Ovechkin broke the 1-1 tie with a power play goal early in the second period, beating Marc-Andre Fleury with a one-timer off a feed by Nicklas Backstrom. It was Ovechkin’s first Stanley Cup Final goal of his illustrious career.

Washington stretched its lead to 3-1 midway through the period with a goal by Brooks Orpik. The defenseman fired a puck through traffic, and it deflected off a player, off the left goal post, and into Vegas’ net.

The Golden Knights then pulled back within one goal when Shea Theodore’s wrist shot from the point danced through the traffic in front of Braden Holtby and found the top, right corner of the net. It was the Golden Knights’ first power play goal of the game and made it 3-2.

Golden Knights, Capitals tied 1-1 after one period

Once again in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it was the Golden Knights who jumped out to an early lead.

James Neal gathered a puck out of mid-air after Luca Sbisa flipped it into the Capitals zone. Neal tipped the puck around Dmitry Orlov, settled it down and sniped it over the glove of Washington goalie Braden Holtby to make it 1-0 less than eight minutes into the game.

The Capitals would tie the game 1-1 late in the period with another goal by Lars Eller, but the goal was all because of a spectacular play by defenseman Michal Kempny.

Kempny received a pass in the left circle, and held the puck just long enough to draw Marc-Andre Fleury out of his crease as he tried to cut of the angle. Once Fleury was out of the net, Kempny fed the puck to Eller, who placed it into the wide open goal.

Washington outshot Vegas 12-10 in the first period.

Pre game

Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final Monday night was exciting for the fans, with 10 goals and a slew of ties and lead changes and the Golden Knights coming out on top 6-4.

But the coaches and players considered it clumsy, undisciplined and out of character.

“It was a sloppy game,” Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant. “It was an exciting game with lots of goals and lots of action but players want to be more responsible than that.”

The Golden Knights have remained defensively responsible throughout the postseason. There were the same amount of goals in Monday night’s game as there were in the entire first round series against the Los Angeles Kings.

“I think it was a little bit sloppy but that happens when you’re off for a little bit,” forward James Neal said. “I think it’ll be a little bit more of a cleaner game tonight and they’ll be desperate to get a win in our rink before we go back to Washington so we have to be ready.”

The Golden Knights have the opportunity to grab a stranglehold on the series with a win tonight. In the history of the Stanley Cup Final, only five teams have rallied from an 0-2 deficit to win the Cup.

With all of the pre-series hype, and the media obligations that surround it, now out of the way, the teams can focus solely on hockey.

“Now that the series is going we feel a lot better,” Gallant said. “We played two days ago and now we’re ready for another big game tonight. It’s a lot more comfortable. Guys get into their routine and that’s why I think it will be a better game tonight for both teams.”

Expect a much better effort from both teams tonight, especially in their defensive zones.

“It might be a little tighter game, we’ll see, but definitely fast and physical,” William Karlsson said. “ It’s good to have that first game out of the way, and now it’s more focused on hockey so we can just go out there and play like any other game.”

Prediction: Golden Knights 3, Capitals 2 OT

Playoffs record for predictions: 11-5

Season record for predictions: 38-26

Puck drops: 5:00 p.m.

Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas

Radio: Fox Sports 1340 AM and 98.9 FM

TV: NBC Sports Network (DirecTV 220, Cox 1038, Dish Network 159)

Betting line: Golden Knights minus-1650, Total 5.5 minus-115 to the over

Golden Knights playoff record (13-3) (7-1 home)

Coach: Gerard Gallant

Playoffs goal leader: Jonathan Marchessault (8)

Playoffs assist leader: Reilly Smith (15)

Expected goalie: Marc-Andre Fleury (13-3, 1.81 goals against average)

Washington Capitals playoff record (12-8) (8-3 away)

Coach: Barry Trotz

Playoffs goal leader: Alex Ovechkin (12)

Playoffs assist leader: Evgeny Kuznetsov (14)

Expected goalie: Braden Holtby (12-7, 2.20 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, David Perron, Ryan Reaves, Reilly Smith 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

Jesse Granger can be reached at 702-259-8814 or [email protected]. Follow Jesse on Twitter at twitter.com/JesseGranger_.

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