Things were a little dicey late in the third period, and it truly came down to the wire, but the Knights did just enough to hold on to the lead and squeeze out the win against the Caps.
The two points bring Vegas into a tie with the Oilers for first place in the Pacific Division, though Edmonton has the edge with two games in hand. Vegas is now 3-0-0 on this current five-game homestand.
For a while, it looked like Vegas’ stifling defensive play from Saturday night’s game against the Islanders was the new norm for the Knights. They were dominant to start the game against Washington, getting multiple breakaway opportunities and making life extremely difficult for the Capitals in all three zones.
Vegas made good use of some gorgeous stretch passes right off the bat, including this pass that set up Cody Eakin on a breakaway early in the first.
The Knights took control of the game quickly, opening the scoring with a goal from none other than Nick Holden, who deflected a William Carrier shot behind Braden Holtby less than four minutes into the game.
The goal was the result of a strong shift from the fourth line, whose fervent puck pursuit prevented Washington from clearing the zone after a Carrier breakaway attempt trickled through the crease.
Reilly Smith doubled Vegas’ lead in the final three minutes of the opening frame, scoring for the second game in a row.
It was an especially important goal since it came very shortly after T.J. Oshie missed a wide-open net, which would have made it a 1-1 game.
Life comes at you fast, a thread (1/3): pic.twitter.com/pZjPHJcvgg— Danny Webster (@DannyWebster21) February 17, 2020
Vegas further extended its lead by making it 3-0 on Max Pacioretty‘s 27th of the season at 14:06 of the middle frame.
Pacioretty scored off a William Karlsson feed from behind the net.
February 17 vs WSH pic.twitter.com/se4eRYwR5k— Here's Your Replay ⬇️ (@HeresYourReplay) February 18, 2020
However, Oshie made up for his earlier gaffe by scoring two goals in under two minutes in the third period, which helped the Capitals surge for the remainder of regulation.
Both Oshie goals were absolute lasers, leaving Marc-Andre Fleury no chance to make the stops.
Fleury finished the game with 24 saves on 26 shots for a .923 save percentage, but there were some close calls late in the third. A puck slid through the crease underneath him as he did a split, and he had to look behind him on the final shot of the night, which came off the stick of Capitals defenseman John Carlson.
But the Knights’ strong play in the first two periods was the difference in this game.
Once again, it was a great night for the second line of Pacioretty, Karlsson and Mark Stone, with Pacioretty and Karlsson finishing with Corsi For percentages over 70.
They were able to contain Alex Ovechkin, who remains two goals shy of 700 for his career. He had a lot of attempts, but Fleury made several key pad saves and closed off a chance at the side of the net early in the contest.
Vegas’ penalty kill was strong once again. Aside from the Oshie goal, which was just a perfect one-timed blast off a brilliant backhand saucer feed, the Knights were aggressive and effective, and it frustrated the Capitals, who were unable to get much of anything going.
The Knights will need to do the same and hope their success on home ice continues Thursday night when they host the red-hot Tampa Bay Lightning, winners of 11 straight games.