The Vegas Golden Knights got off to a hot start in their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance. In a 6-4 victory over the Washington Capitals, Vegas is only three wins away from doing the unthinkable: winning a Stanley Cup in the inaugural season of an expansion club.
Vegas came out on Monday firing on all cylinders. With 12:45 remaining in the first period, Golden Knights defenseman Colin Miller scored from deep, putting them up 1-0 very early in the game. Washington Capitals right Brett Connolly tapped the puck in past goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for the equalizer with 5:19 remaining in the first. Less than a minute after, with 4:37 remaining in the first period, Washington centre Nicklas Backstrom scored another goal to give the Capitals a 2-1 advantage. Golden Knights forward William Karlsson answered with a goal with 1:19 remaining.
After the first period, four different players had scored in the matchup. Though both Fleury and Braden Holtby have been stalwarts behind in the net for both clubs, they had their troubles in the first period. Things would only get even more hectic from then on.
The Golden Knights right wing Reilly Smith scored with 16:39 remaining off of a ricochet. Capitals defenseman John Carlson answered back with a goal scored with 11:31 left in the second period, tying the game at 3-3. Going into the third period, the game had started as it had begun – a tie. However, six goals had been allowed and there were more to come.
Capitals right wing Tom Wilson had a rough play against Golden Knights centre Jonathan Marchessault earlier in the game, sending Marchessault to the locker room. Wilson continued with his aggressive play, scoring with 18:50 remaining in the game. However, his goal to give the Capitals a 4-3 advantage early in the third period was in vain.
Vegas answered with a wave of goals, with the first coming from right wing Ryan Reaves (17:19) to tie the game at 4-4. The Golden Knights gained the lead with a slap shot from left wing Tomas Nosek (10:16), scored on a pass from defenseman Shea Theodore. The Golden Knights finished things off with a with an empty-net goal scored by Nosek with just :02.7 remaining, ultimately winning 6-4.
Once again, the Capitals and Golden Knights will face off in Las Vegas at T-Mobile Arena. History could very well be made in the next few games. Will the Capitals break the Washington sports “curse” that has plagued the Wizards, Redskins, Nationals and themselves? Or will the Golden Knights become the first team to win a Stanley Cup as an expansion club? These are two questions that will definitely be answered in a few games, but Wednesday’s Game 2 matchup is extremely important.
Projected Capitals line:
Ovechkin – Kuznetsov – Wilson
Vrana – Backstrom – Oshie
Burakovsky – Eller – Connolly
Stephenson – Beagle – DSP
Kempny – Carlson
Orlov – Niskanen
Orpik – Djoos
Projected Golden Knights line:
Marchessault – Karlsson – Smith
Tuch – Haula – Neal
Perron – Eakin – Carpenter
Nosek – Bellemare – Reaves
McNabb – Schmidt
Theodore – Engelland
Sbisa – Miller
Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals is on Monday at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time on NBC.
More Stanley Cup predictions at Doc’s Sports.
(Photo Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports