Golden Knights at Capitals Game 4 Preview
The Washington Capitals hope the momentum of their first-ever home win in the Stanley Cup Finals will go a long way toward recording another versus the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 4 on Monday, thereby bringing them one victory away from grabbing the chalice for the first time in franchise history. Three-time Hart Trophy winner Alex Ovechkin scored the signature diving goal in Saturday’s 3-1 triumph, helping the Capitals claim a 2-1 edge in the series.
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“I thought it was just sort of the right thing in our first victory in the Final at home that Alex would score the goal,” coach Barry Trotz told reporters. “I thought that was a little bit of poetic justice, if you will, for all the tough times.” Ovechkin matched a franchise high (John Druce) with his NHL high-tying 14th tally (Winnipeg’s Mark Scheifele) to push his point total to 25 to reside two shy of fellow Russian Evgeny Kutznetsov, who rebounded from an upper-body injury in Wednesday’s 3-2 win to score and set up a goal in Game 3. Tomas Nosek netted his fourth goal in five games on Saturday when he took advantage of Braden Holtby’s misplay for the Golden Knights, who have dropped two in a row for the first time since the final two games of the regular season (April 5-7). “We had twice as much time off as they have in the playoffs. We should have a lot in the tank,” Vegas defenseman Deryk Engelland told TSN. “I just think we’re not playing our identity. We’re trying to make too many plays.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, Sportsnet, TVA
ABOUT THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS: Shea Theodore has parlayed a solid season into a strong playoffs for Vegas, however his play in both Games 2 and 3 left a bit to be desired – and he knows it. “I just have to be much better than I was,” said the 22-year-old defenseman, who saw his broken stick lead to Kuznetsov’s goal at 12:50 of the second period while his botched clearing attempt resulted in fourth-liner Jay Beagle setting up Devante Smith-Pelly with 6:07 remaining in the third. Theodore also didn’t do himself any favors by allowing Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen to skate past him, resulting in Marc-Andre Fleury to be whistled for tripping to negate a Vegas power play in the latter stages of the second period.
ABOUT THE CAPITALS: Beagle answered one assist in his previous eight games by setting up a pair of goals, including tapping the puck to Kuznetsov on a 2-on-1 rush. “(The assist isn’t) as good as a goal, but I want it out of my hands when it’s me and him, that’s for sure,” the 32-year-old Beagle said of Kutznetsov, who curiously referenced an NBA Hall of Famer in a nod to playing while at less than 100 percent. “It’s emotional stuff. Like Michael Jordan, when he play(ed) his best game, he got hurt, got 53 points,” the 26-year-old Kuznetsov told reporters, although it’s not known which game he’s referencing. “I mean like when you’re hurt, you play a little better always.”
1. Vegas C William Karlsson, who led the team with 43 goals in the regular season, did not register a single shot attempt in Game 3.
2. His Game 3 gaffe notwithstanding, Holtby has permitted just three goals since being pierced for five in the series opener.
3. The Golden Knights’ third line of Erik Haula, David Perron and James Neal were a combined minus-9, with Haula collecting the lone two shots by the contingent.