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Nosek, Golden Knights crowd among top performers in Game 1 of Final

Honor roll, stock watch from Vegas win against Capitals

by Shawn P. Roarke @sroarke_nhl / NHL.com Director of Editorial

Who played well in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final? Sometimes it's easy to tell, sometimes it isn't. NHL.com graded the players in the Vegas Golden Knights' 6-4 victory against the Washington Capitals on Monday. Here are the players and trends that stood out the most.

 

[RELATED: Complete Golden Knights vs. Capitals series coverage]

 

Honor roll

Tomas Nosek (Golden Knights) -- The fourth-line forward scored the game-winning goal at 9:44 of the third period and made the game-deciding play, blocking a shot from Alex Ovechkin and turning it into an empty-net goal with three seconds remaining.

Video: WSH@VGK, Gm1: Nosek nets Theodore's perfect feed

John Carlson (Capitals) -- Carlson made it a 3-3 game in the second period with his 17th NHL career playoff goal, one more than Kevin Hatcher for the most by a defenseman in Capitals history.

Jonathan Marchessault (Golden Knights) -- With an assist on Reilly Smith's second-period goal, Marchessault scored his 19th point (eight goals, 11 assists) of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, setting the NHL record for points by a player with a franchise in its first postseason.

Deryk Engelland (Golden Knights) -- The man who calls Las Vegas home made a statement in Game 1 with two assists, a plus-2 rating, five shots on goal and two hits in 20:50 of ice time.

William Karlsson (Golden Knights) -- The forward made it a 2-2 game with at 18:19 of the first period when he stuffed a puck inside the post before goaltender Braden Holtby could recover. It was Karlsson's seventh goal of the playoffs and 50th when including his 43 during the regular season.

Video: WSH@VGK, Gm1: Karlsson capitalizes on carom

 

Stock watch

The Golden Knight (up) -- The mascot, in his toughest ceremony to date, "slayed" four villains in a slick presentation to hype up the crowd. He did have some help from fire-tipped arrows and a catapult in The Fortress that hurled a flaming projectile into the villains.

The T-Mobile crowd (up) -- The Vegas fans are staking their claim as loudest in the League during this playoff run. They delivered again Monday, roaring from before the start of warmups until well after the buzzer, often topping 100 decibels during the wildest moments of the game.

Video: WSH@VGK, Gm1: Vegas' ceremony kicks off Cup Final

Braden Holtby (down) -- The Capitals goalie allowed five goals, his most since re-assuming the starting job in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Lars Eller (down) -- The Capitals forward played 15:22, but was on the ice for three goals against, finishing minus-3. He had one shot on goal and a giveaway and lost nine of 14 face-offs.

Dmitry Orlov (up) -- The defenseman was among Washington's best players. He played 24:14 and had eight shot attempts, five shots on goal and was plus-2.

Shea Theodore (up) -- The Golden Knights defenseman made a beautiful pass on the game-winning goal and had seven shot attempts and a plus-2 rating.

Video: WSH@VGK, Gm1: Theodore, Miller discuss Game 1 win

Marc-Andre Fleury (down) -- Fleury experienced one of his sloppier games of the playoffs and allowed four goals for the fourth time. He battled the puck throughout and allowed more rebounds than usual.

Lee Greenwood (up) -- The country star was brought in to sing his hit "God Bless the U.S.A." to commemorate Memorial Day. His microphone failed during his performance, but he powered through with some help from the fans.

 

What we learned

Don't sleep on Vegas' fourth line

Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant is not afraid to leave his fourth line on the ice in offensive-zone situations, evidenced when Nosek delivered the game-winning goal. Gallant did the same when Ryan Reaves scored the series-clinching goal in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final against the Winnipeg Jets on May 20. Gallant is a gambler in the truest Las Vegas sense and he has been hitting big throughout the playoffs.

Video: WSH@VGK, Gm1: Reaves roofs home the equalizer

 

Golden Knights are a resilient bunch

Never count Vegas out of a game and never assume it has been put away. The Golden Knights sense an emotional letdown and exploit it ruthlessly. They did so Monday when Reaves tied it 4-4 at 2:41 of the third period, 1:39 after Tom Wilson scored to give the Capitals a 4-3 lead. Vegas scored goals within two minutes of the Jets on four occasions in the Western Conference Final.

 

Ice-time distribution a concern for Capitals

Washington had three players who played fewer than 11 minutes: forwards Chandler Stephenson (10:23), Devante Smith-Pelly (10:04) and defenseman Christian Djoos (9:03). In contrast, Vegas had one such player (Reaves, 9:46).

 

The Capitals need to get shots through

Washington had 68 shot attempts, a solid number, but 28 got through to Fleury. The defensemen were the primary culprits; Carlson missed four shots and had another three blocked.

***

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