The Washington Capitals picked up a 3-2 win in Game 2 Wednesday night in Vegas, thus tying the best-of-seven series at one game apiece. It was the first Stanley Cup Final win in Capitals franchise history and will be forever remembered by “The Save” that Braden Holtby made with under two minutes left in the third period.
A fluky bounce off the boards (seemingly sent straight from the hockey gods) set up a golden opportunity for the Golden Knights to tie the game at 3-3 late in the third, but Holtby stretched back and made a desperation stick save on Alex Tuch to preserve Washington’s one-goal lead and secure the win.
Ironically, despite the solid matchup in net, this series features more goals (15) through two games of the Stanley Cup Final in over 35 years. It’s hard to know what Game 3 will bring, as the first two games have been wild and unpredictable, with two unlikely players scoring the game-winners (Tomas Nosek in Game 1, Brooks Orpik in Game 2).
But the series now shifts to Washington, where the Capitals have a 4-5 record this postseason after losing the first two games in round one against Columbus, Game 1 against Pittsburgh in the second round and Games 3 and 4 in the Eastern Conference Final against Tampa Bay. This will be the first Stanley Cup Final game in Washington in 20 years.
Vegas will look to take advantage of Washington’s struggles on home ice, and an early goal could do the trick. The Knights have scored first in six straight games and in 13 out of 17 games this postseason, which includes both games of this series.
The biggest story heading into Game 3 is the status of Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov, who sustained an upper-body injury on a hit by Brayden McNabb in Game 2; Kuznetsov did not return to the game. Though he participated in Washington’s optional practice yesterday, he is listed as a game-time decision for tonight’s contest.
With his status up in the air, here are the projected lines for both teams:
Golden Knights lineup
Jonathan Marchessault — William Karlsson — Reilly Smith
David Perron — Erik Haula — James Neal
Alex Tuch — Cody Eakin — Ryan Carpenter
Tomas Nosek — Pierre-Edouard Bellemare — Ryan Reaves
Brayden McNabb — Nate Schmidt
Shea Theodore — Deryk Engelland
Luca Sbisa — Colin Miller
Forwards (with Kuznetsov)
Alex Ovechkin (#8) — Evgeny Kuznetsov (#92) — Tom Wilson (#43)
Jakub Vrana (#13) — Nicklas Backstrom (#19) — T.J. Oshie (#77)
Andre Burakovsky (#65) — Lars Eller (#20) — Brett Connolly (#10)
Chandler Stephenson (#18) — Jay Beagle (#83) — Devante Smith-Pelly (#25)
Forwards (without Kuznetsov)
Alex Ovechkin (#8) — Nicklas Backstrom (#19) — Tom Wilson (#43)
Jakub Vrana (#13) — Lars Eller (#20) — T.J. Oshie (#77)
Andre Burakovsky (#65) — Chandler Stephenson (#18) — Brett Connolly (#10)
Alex Chiasson (#39) — Jay Beagle (#83) — Devante Smith-Pelly (#25)
Dmitry Orlov (#9) — Matt Niskanen (#2)
Michal Kempny (#6) — John Carlson (#74)
Brooks Orpik (#44) — Christian Djoos (#29)
Braden Holtby (#70)
Philipp Grubauer (#31)
So, which players do you have your eyes on tonight? Let us know in the comments section.