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Stanley Cup Final | Golden Knights vs. Capitals

Stanley Cup Final

Stanley Cup Final Buzz: Capitals one win from championship

Will clinch first title with victory against Golden Knights in Game 5

NHL.com @NHL

Welcome to Stanley Cup Final Buzz, your one-stop spot for all things to do with the showdown between the expansion Vegas Golden Knights and the Washington Capitals. Each team is aiming for its first championship.

 

[RELATED: Complete Golden Knights vs. Capitals series coverage | Stanley Cup Final schedule]

 

Here you will find links to all the stories generated by our staff of a dozen writers on hand in either Las Vegas or Washington, as well as stand-alone vignettes about the sights and sounds surrounding the Final, on and off the ice.

Check back often as we will be updating this entry multiple times each day.

 

June 7

5:15 p.m.

Scott Knuth had found his chosen spot across the street from the giant video screens on the steps of National Portrait Gallery in Washington at 2:15 p.m., and said he wasn't moving until the Game 5 ended.

"I've been tingling all day," said Knuth, who was born in Washington and now lives in Springfield, Virginia. "I think the whole town has been buzzing."

Tweet from @NHLAdamK: Meet Scott Knuth from Springfield, Va. He���s been camped in front of the big screens in front of the National Portrait Gallery since 2:15. ���I���ve been tingling all day. I think the whole town has been buzzing.��� pic.twitter.com/ijMiESetsS

Knuth was one of the hundreds of people who began setting up across from the screens outside Capital One Arena and across the street at the National Portrait Gallery. The number was expected to grow as day went on, adding to the sold-out crowd inside Capital One Arena. The free tickets for the event were gone in minutes.

Corinne Errigo, wearing a blue No. 68 Jaromir Jagr Capitals jersey, was on her way with three friends to grab food and find a spot to watch the video screens outside. Hours before puck drop, the nerves already were setting in.

"I don't want to say too much and jinx anything," she said. "The last time they got this far I was in my mom's belly."

Tweet from @NHLAdamK: Here���s Corinne Errigo rocking a Jagr Capitals jersey, with her friends Julia, Alex and Anthony. Corinne was 4 when Jagr played for the Caps but she���s a hard core fan. ���I don���t want to say too much and jinx anything.��� pic.twitter.com/NMWR7qCxAj

 

4:07 p.m.

Facts and figures

* The Golden Knights are 2-0 in Game 5s during the 2018 playoffs, defeating the San Jose Sharks 5-3 at T-Mobile Arena in the Western Conference Second Round and winning 2-1 at the Winnipeg Jets in the conference final. The Capitals are 2-1 in Game 5s. They defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3 in overtime in the Eastern Conference First Round and the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-3 in the second round before losing 3-2 at the Tampa Bay Lightning in the conference final.

* Teams that take a 3-1 lead in a best-of-7 Stanley Cup Playoff series have gone on to win the series 90.8 percent of the time (276-28 in 304 series), including 32-1 in the Final. The Capitals are 7-5 (58.3 percent) when winning three of the first four games in a series.

* The Golden Knights will try to become the 16th team to force a Game 6 when trailing 3-1 in the Final. The last team to do so was the Sharks, who won Game 5 against the Penguins in 2016. The last to do it in any series was the Toronto Maple Leafs against the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference First Round this year. Boston won in seven games.

* The Capitals went 3-for-5 on the power play in Game 4 and are 21-for-71 (29.6 percent) this postseason. Among teams with at least 60 opportunities, three have converted at a higher rate during a single playoff year since the NHL officially began tracking power-play percentage in 1977-78: the 1981 New York Islanders (37.8 percent; 31-for-82), the 1982 Islanders (29.9 percent; 23-for-77) and the 1994 Maple Leafs (29.7 percent; 22-for-74).

* Washington forward Evgeny Kuznetsov, the playoff scoring leader with 31 points (12 goals, 19 assists), has 59 points (23 goals, 26 assists) in his past 41 games (regular season and playoffs) since Feb. 24.

* The Golden Knights have not lost more than three games in a row at any point this season. They lost three straight games three times during the regular season: Oct. 30-Nov. 2 (0-3-0), Nov. 28-Dec. 1 (0-3-0) and Feb. 26-March 2 (0-2-1), before losing Games 2-4 of the Cup Final to Washington.

11:03 a.m.

What's on tap

Washington Capitals at Vegas Golden Knights (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS) -- This could be the night the Capitals and their fans have waited for since the team entered the NHL in the 1974-75 season. A victory in Game 5 at T-Mobile Arena will give the Capitals their first championship and be the city's first major pro sports title since the Redskins won the Super Bowl after the 1991 NFL season. The Capitals have won three in a row since a 6-4 loss in Game 1 with goaltender Braden Holtby allowing five goals. Washington is 9-3 on the road in the 2018 playoffs, including 3-0 when it has a chance to close out a series. The Golden Knights, who haven't lost more than three games in a row all season, expect first-line center William Karlsson to play. Though Karlsson didn't practice Wednesday, coach Gerard Gallant said he should be ready to go. However, the Golden Knights could make some changes on their bottom two lines. One possible addition is forward William Carrier, who hasn't played since sustaining an undisclosed injury in Game 5 of the Western Conference Second Round against the San Jose Sharks. David Perron, a healthy scratch in Game 4, could also return.

 

June 6

9:15 p.m.

The series has shifted back to Vegas for Game 5 on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS). The Capitals lead the best-of-7 series 3-1 and will win the Stanley Cup for the first time with a victory.

Here are the headlines for Wednesday:

Chillin' out

The night before he plays for the Stanley Cup, Alex Ovechkin knows how he's going to spend his night in Las Vegas.

 

Just a regular game

The Capitals are trying to treat Game 5 like any other game, even though they know that won't be easy.

 

Karlsson takes day off

William Karlsson did not practice with the Golden Knights on Wednesday. He is expected to play in Game 5, but there could be some lineup changes for Vegas.

 

Nothing is impossible

The Golden Knights have beaten the odds all season and will need to do it again if they are going to extend the Final against the Capitals.

 

Near the finish line

NBC Sports analyst and former NHL player Jeremy Roenick took a few spins around Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Wednesday and during a pit stop talked about Ovechkin and the Capitals.

 

June 5

9:40 p.m.

The Washington Capitals can win the Stanley Cup for the first time with a victory against the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 5 on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS).

Here are the headlines from Tuesday:

 

D.C. united

Capitals coach Barry Trotz says it's impossible not to notice the enthusiasm in Washington D.C., which hasn't celebrated a professional sports championship since the Redskins won the Super Bowl at the end of the 1991 NFL season. 

 

What pressure?

Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant believes they will be loose for Game 5 on Thursday, when they will play with their season on the line for the first time. 

 

Smith-Pelly shows his value

Twelve months ago, Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly had his contract bought out by the New Jersey Devils. Now he's playing a huge role in the Stanley Cup Final.

 

Top line needs to be tops for Vegas

Golden Knights forward Jonathan Marchessault says he and linemates William Karlsson and Reilly Smith must produce in Game 5

 

Matt's fantastic 

Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen has been a workhorse throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but particularly in the Final.

 

Hockey gave UNLV coach hope

UNLV hockey coach Nick Robone is almost fully recovered after taking a bullet in the chest during the mass shooting on Oct. 1. The Golden Knights have provided reasons to cheer ever since.

 

June 5

Noon

The Washington Capitals are one win from their first NHL championship after a 6-2 victory against the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. The Capitals, who won a third straight game for the second time in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs (they won four in a row against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Eastern Conference First Round), can clinch the title in Game 5 at Vegas on Thursday. 

Facts and figures

* Teams that hold a 3-1 lead in the Stanley Cup Final have an all-time series record of 32-1 (97.0 percent) since the Final went to the best-of-seven format in 1939. The lone exception came in 1942, when the Toronto Maple Leafs rallied from being down 3-0 in the series to defeat the Detroit Red Wings in seven games.

* Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov, who leads all Stanley Cup Playoff scorers with 31 points (12 goals, 19 assists) in 23 games, had four assists in Washington's 6-2 win in Game 4, tying a playoff record achieved by 11 other players. The last was Colorado Avalanche center Joe Sakic, who did it in Game 2 of the 1996 Cup Final against the Florida Panthers.

* Kuznetsov's four assists also equaled a Washington playoff record for most assists in one game, which had been set by defenseman Scott Stevens in Game 6 of the 1988 Patrick Division Final against the New Jersey Devils and tied by center Andrei Nikolishin in Game 3 of the 1998 Eastern Conference Final against the Buffalo Sabres.

* Kuznetsov also became the fifth player since 1997 to have at least 30 points in a single postseason. Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin has 36 points (14 goals, 22 assists) in 2009. The only other players with more than 36 points in a single postseason are center Wayne Gretzky, who did it four times, the last in 1993, when he had 40 points (15 goals, 25 assists) for the Los Angeles Kings; center Mario Lemieux, who had 44 points (16 goals, 28 assists) for the Penguins in 1991; and defenseman Paul Coffey, who had 37 points (12 goals, 25 assists) for the Edmonton Oilers in 1985.

* Kuznetsov and Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin, with 26 points (14 goals, 12 assists) in 23 games, are trying to become the first Russia-born players to finish first and second in scoring in a single Stanley Cup postseason. Washington center Nicklas Backstrom is third in playoff scoring with 22 points (five goals, 17 assists) in 19 games.

* The Capitals have four players who have at least 20 points this postseason; Kuznetsov, Ovechkin, Backstrom and forward T.J. Oshie, with 21 points (eight goals, 13 assists) in 23 games. Defenseman John Carlson has 19 points (five goals, 14 assists) in 23 games, and center Lars Eller has 17 points (six goals, 11 assists) in 23 games. 

* Washington could become the third team in NHL history to have six players with at least 20 points in a single postseason; they would join the 1983 New York Islanders and 1985 Oilers (who each won the Stanley Cup) in that exclusive club.

* With 54 points (18 goals, 36 assists) in 99 Stanley Cup Playoff games, Carlson is tied with Calle Johansson (12 goals, 42 assists) for most points by a defenseman on the Capitals all-time playoff list. Carlson holds the Washington record for most playoff goals by defenseman (18) and is third in assists, behind Scott Stevens (42) and Johansson.

* Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly has six goals in 23 playoff games this postseason after scoring seven goals in 75 games during the regular season. 

* The Capitals power play is operating at 29.6 percent (21-for-71), the third-highest percentage among teams with at least 60 opportunities since the NHL began tracking the statistic in 1977-78. Only the 1981 Islanders, at 37.8 percent (31-for-82) and the 1994 Toronto Maple Leafs, at 29.7 percent (22-for-74) rank higher.

* The Golden Knights have lost three straight games for the first time since Feb. 26-March 2, and the fourth time during their inaugural season; they have not lost four consecutive games at any point this season.

 

2 a.m.

Here are the headlines from Game 4: 

 

Capital Won

The Capitals are on the verge of their first title after a dominating performance at home in Game 4.

 

Rush hour

T.J. Oshie had trouble on Washington's subway system before Game 4, but no issues once he took the ice.

 

Powerful 

The Capitals scored three times on the power play in Game 4, continuing their torrid pace with the man-advantage in the playoffs.  

 

Open and shut

James Neal had a chance to give the Golden Knights an early lead in Game 4, but he hit the post on an open net, and Vegas never recovered.

 

Fleury of shots

Marc-Andre Fleury had another rough night in net for the Golden Knights but remains confident heading into Game 5. 

 

Stock report

Who's hot, who's not? Check out our honor roll and stock report from Game 4.

 

National pride

Max Scherzer and Ryan Zimmerman of Major League Baseball's Washington Nationals got the Capitals crowd fired up Monday. 

 

June 4

2:01 p.m.

What's on tap

Vegas Golden Knights at Washington Capitals (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS) -- It's gut-check time for the Golden Knights, who have lost consecutive games for the first time in the Stanley Cup Playoffs while scoring a combined three goals, and need more from forwards William Karlsson (one goal, one assist in Stanley Cup Final) and Jonathan Marchessault (one assist). The Capitals, two wins from winning the Cup for the first time in their 44-year history, are 14-8 while allowing 2.55 goals per game in the postseason, including 1.80 in their past five (nine goals allowed). Center Evgeny Kuznetsov (27 points; 12 goals, 15 assists) leads the NHL in playoff scoring. Forward Alex Ovechkin is tied with Winnipeg Jets forward Mark Scheifele for the League lead with 14 goals, which is also even with John Druce's Capitals record set in 1990. 

 

Blast from the past 

There will be a familiar voice in the Capitals radio booth for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. Ron Weber, the Capitals' original radio play-by-play man, will join John Walton, Ken Sabourin and Ben Raby for the broadcast Monday. Walton, who extended the invitation to Weber, announced the news on Twitter.

Weber, 84, called 1,936 games for the Capitals from 1974-1997, leaving the season before they reached their first Stanley Cup Final.

"It'll be neat," Weber told The Washington Post. "How it will compare to other things I've done, I'd have to answer that after the game. It's something I've never experienced."

Tweet from @WaltonCaps: Thrilled to announce that Hall of Fame broadcaster Ron Weber, the original voice of the @Capitals, will join us on @CapitalsRadio for the call of Game 4 Monday night. He���ll co-anchor our pregame show, and be on the call with me and Ken Sabourin for the first period. pic.twitter.com/lz0hrQ5PAX

 
Game 4 Facts and Figures

* The Capitals are 22-22 all-time in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, including 10-8 at home. They are 5-5 at Capital One Arena in the 2018 postseason, outscoring opponents 33-28, and 69-71 all-time on home ice in the playoffs.

* The Golden Knights hope to avoid their first three-game losing streak since going 0-2-1 from Feb. 26 to March 2. They lost three straight three times in the regular season.

* Vegas is 6-3 on the road this postseason while outscoring opponents 19-18. The Minnesota Wild are the only team to win as many games away from home in its first postseason appearance by going 6-4 in 2003.

* The Capitals could become the second team in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup after trailing in all four playoff rounds (1991 Pittsburgh Penguins).

* The Golden Knights are attempting to become the first NHL, MLB, NBA or NFL team to win a championship in its inaugural season -- excluding the first year of a league's existence -- since the 1950 Cleveland Browns won the NFL Championship. The Baltimore Bullets (1947-48) and Minneapolis Lakers (1948-49) won the NBA title in their respective first seasons.

 

10:02 a.m.

The Stanley Cup Final resumes Monday with the Vegas Golden Knights hoping to even the best-of-7 series against the Washington Capitals with a victory in Game 4 at Capital One Arena (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS).

Here are the headlines from Sunday:

 

Golden Knights will 'see what we're made of'

Vegas has lost two straight games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time. Its mettle will be tested in Game 4.

 

Down but not out

The Golden Knights have no doubt they'll respond after consecutive losses in the Stanley Cup Final.

 

Dominant on 'D'

The Capitals have reached a new level on defense during the Final, a main reason why they're two victories from their first Stanley Cup title.

 

Puck stops here

Capitals goalie Braden Holtby is playing with renewed confidence

 

Good luck charm

The Capitals run through the playoffs has provided a diversion for a 10-year-old girl with cancer.

 

June 3
 
11:25 a.m.
Facts and figures

* Alex Ovechkin opened the scoring in the Washington Capitals' 3-1 win against the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 3 with his 14th goal of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs (22 games played). It was the 60th goal in 119 postseason games for Washington's captain, who is the 34th player to score 60 playoff goals in his NHL career. His average of 0.50 goals per playoff game is ninth in NHL history among players with at least 100 postseason appearances.

Video: Clutch Performance: Ovechkin producing for Capitals

* Ovechkin scored his 33rd goal in 55 NHL games (regular season and playoffs) against Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. That's his second-highest total against any NHL goalie behind Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers (35 in 71 games played).

* Ovechkin has 24 points (11 goals, 13 assists) in 19 Game 3s, his highest point (tied) and assist totals, and second-highest goal total of any playoff game. The Capitals are 8-11 in those games (2-3 at home).

* Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov had a goal and an assist in Game 3. It was his sixth multiple-point performance during the 2018 playoffs and he leads all scorers with 27 points (12 goals, 15 assists) in 22 games played. Ovechkin is next with 25 (14 goals, 11 assists). If either finishes first in playoff scoring, he would be the third Russia-born player to lead the NHL in postseason scoring in the modern era (since 1943-44). Forward Sergei Fedorov did it with the Detroit Red Wings in 1995 (24 points), and Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin led all scorers in 2009 (36) and 2017 (28).

* Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly scored with 6:07 remaining in the third period to give Washington a 3-1 lead. Smith-Pelly has five goals in 22 playoff games after scoring seven goals in 75 regular-season games.

* Washington is 5-5 at Capital One Arena in the 2018 playoffs, outscoring opponents 33-28. Overall, the Capitals are 69-71 in 140 all-time playoff games at home, including 1-2 in the Stanley Cup Final. The Capitals are 18-29 in 47 all-time in Game 3s (5-13 at home), including 3-1 this year (1-1 at home).

* Vegas has lost consecutive games for the first time since its final two games of the regular season (April 5-7). The Golden Knights were 3-0 following a loss during the playoffs, outscoring opponents 12-7 in that scenario prior to Game 3 of the Final.

* Golden Knights forward Tomas Nosek scored his fourth goal in his past five games since Game 4 of the Western Conference Final against the Winnipeg Jets. He had eight goals in 94 NHL games (regular season and playoffs) prior to this stretch.

 
2 a.m.

The Washington Capitals moved within two wins of the Stanley Cup with a 3-1 victory against the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 3 at Capital One Arena on Saturday.

Here are the headlines from Saturday:

 

Ovi what a night

Alex Ovechkin thoroughly enjoyed his first home game in the Stanley Cup Final.

 

Happy return

After missing the final two periods of Game 2 because of an upper-body injury, Capitals forward Evgeny Kuznetsov was back in the lineup and played a big role in the win.

 

Golden thicket

The Golden Knights haven't played their game in the Stanley Cup Final and find themselves trailing in a series after three games for the first time.

 

On the Marc

Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury did his part in Game 3 but got little help.

 

Who's hot

We hand out the grades for Game 3 with our honor roll, stock report.

 

What a show

Before the Capitals and Golden Knights took the ice, Sting and Shaggy capped a wild pregame scene with a free concert.

 

Wonder-ful

Actress Lynda Carter, who played Wonder Woman on TV in the 1970s, was fired up to see her Capitals win Game 3.

 

June 2
1 p.m.

 

What's on tap

Vegas Golden Knights at Washington Capitals (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS) -- The Capitals hope to have first-line center Evgeny Kuznetsov in the lineup for their first home game in the Cup Final in 20 years. Washington evened the best-of-7 series 1-1 with a 3-2 win in Game 2 at T-Mobile Arena on Wednesday, despite losing Kuznetsov in the first period after a hit by Vegas defenseman Brayden McNabb. Kuznetsov left the ice holding his left wrist and didn't return, but took part in the morning skate Saturday and will be a game-time decision, according to coach Barry Trotz. Kuznetsov leads the Stanley Cup Playoffs with 25 points (11 goals, 14 assists). The Golden Knights must improve their defensive coverage, and need a big game from goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who allowed seven goals in Games 1 and 2 after giving up 10 in Vegas' five-game victory against the Winnipeg Jets in the Western Conference Final. The Capitals haven't played a home game in the Cup Final since June 16, 1998, when the Detroit Red Wings completed a four-game sweep with a 4-1 victory.

 

Facts and figures

* When the Stanley Cup Final has been tied 1-1, the Game 3 winner has gone on to win the Cup 21 of 27 times (77.8 percent) since the best-of-7 format was adopted in 1939. However, the Game 3 loser in each of the past three such instances (Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004; Chicago Blackhawks in 2013 and 2015) has rebounded to win the Cup.

* Teams winning Game 3, regardless of series score, have gone on to win the Stanley Cup 65.4 percent of the time since 1939 (51-of-78). However, the Game 3 loser has won the Cup in each of the past three years (2015 Blackhawks; 2016 and 2017 Pittsburgh Penguins).

* The Washington Capitals are 17-29 in 46 all-time Game 3s in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, including 2-1 this year. But they are 4-13 at home in Game 3s, 0-1 this year. The Vegas Golden Knights are 3-0 in Game 3s, including a 2-0 record on the road.

* Washington is 4-5 at Capital One Arena in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, outscoring opponents 30-27. Overall, the Capitals are 68-71 in 139 home playoff games, including 0-2 in the Stanley Cup Final.

* The Golden Knights are 6-2 as visitors during this year's playoffs, outscoring opponents 18-15. Only one other NHL team has earned as many road wins in its first postseason appearance: the Minnesota Wild, who went 6-4 in 2003 (their third NHL season).

* Washington's 3-2 win in Game 2 assured that there will not be a sweep in the Stanley Cup Final for a record 19th consecutive season; the last came when the Detroit Red Wings swept the Capitals in 1998. The longest prior such streak since the Final went to the best-of-7 format in 1939 was seven straight series, from 1953-59 and again from 1961-67.

* The Golden Knights (eight) and Capitals (seven) have combined to score 15 goals through Games 1 and 2. That's the most combined goals in the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final since 1982, when the New York Islanders (12) and Vancouver Canucks (nine) had 21.

* Through 81 games in this year's playoffs, there have been 477 goals scored, an average of 5.9. That's the most since 2010, when the average was 6.0.

* Washington forward Alex Ovechkin has 23 points (10 goals, 13 assists) in 18 career Game 3s, his highest assist total and second-highest goal and point totals of any game. That includes four points (one goal, three assists) in three Game 3s this postseason, in which the Capitals are 2-1. Despite Ovechkin averaging 1.3 points per game in Game 3s, the Capitals are 7-11 (1-3 at home).

* The Golden Knights have not lost consecutive games during this year's playoffs. They are 3-0 following a loss, outscoring opponents 12-7.

 

June 1
6:30 p.m.

Friday was an off day for the Stanley Cup Final, with Game 3 set for Capital One Arena on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS). Here are the headlines from Friday:

 

Kuznetsov game-time decision

Capitals forward Evgeny Kuznetsov, who left Game 2 after being hit by Golden Knights defenseman Brayden McNabb in the first period, was on the ice but has not been cleared to play in Game 3. His teammates believe he will be back.

 

Long time coming

Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals are excited for Washington's first home Stanley Cup Final game in 20 years.

 

'Huge leader'

His Capitals teammates know just how important Kuznetsov is to their hopes in the Cup Final.

 

Happy Homecoming

Former Capitals Nate Schmidt and Cody Eakin were back in Washington on Friday, but they had seafood, not revenge, on their minds.

 

Keep it simple

The Golden Knights know exactly what they need to do to be successfulin Games 3 and 4 at Washington.

 

An added bonus

Capitals forward Brooks Orpik said he can't remember how he celebrated his game-winning goal in Game 2. He should have; it was his first goal in more than two years.

 

Dog gone

Ovi the bulldog, perhaps the Capitals' No. 1 four-legged fan, is retiring at the end of the Stanley Cup Final.

 

3 p.m.
Kuznetsov could be game-time decision

Capitals forward Evgeny Kuznetsov, injured in the first period of Washington's 3-2 win in Game 2, is likely to be a game-time decision for Game 3, coach Barry Trotz said Friday.

 

The plane truth

The Capitals had to spend a little extra time on the tarmac upon their arrival home Thursday.

 

Saving grace

Vegas goalie coach David Prior knew Marc-Andre Fleury was getting frustrated when he first came to the Golden Knights, and he didn't care.

 

Friendship on hold

Vegas center Jonathan Marchessault and Washington forward Alex Chiasson have been friends forever, but not during the Cup Final.

 

The save

Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby's miracle stop against Golden Knights forward Alex Tuch in Game 2 stirred memories of Ken Dryden in the 1971 Stanley Cup Final.

 

Vegas baby

Vegas fans who survived the Oct. 1 shooting on the Strip decided on a special name for their daughter.

 

May 31

Game 2 is in the books, and it was another entertaining game. The Capitals won 3-2 to even the best-of-seven series 1-1.

 
Facts and figures

* The Capitals continued their stellar road play this postseason. They are 9-3 away from home, outscoring the opposition 43-28, and one victory from tying the playoff record for most wins by a team in a single postseason, held by the New Jersey Devils (10-1 in 1995, 10-2 in 2000), Calgary Flames (10-4 in 2004) and Los Angeles Kings (10-1 in 2012). Each of them, with the exception of the Flames, won the Cup.

* The Golden Knights loss was their second of the playoffs at T-Mobile Arena. They are 7-2 at home, their only other defeat a 4-3 double-overtime loss to the San Jose Sharks in Game 2 of the Western Conference Second Round. The defeat in Game 2 of the Final was Vegas' first at home in regulation since a 3-2 loss to the Arizona Coyotes on March 28.

* With his 13th goal of the playoffs in his 21st game, Washington forward Alex Ovechkin is one goal from tying the Capitals' single-season postseason record held by forward John Druce, who scored 14 in 15 games in 1990.

* Washington defenseman Brooks Orpik ended a 220-game goal drought (regular season and playoffs), the longest active such streak in the NHL, with his second-period goal in Game 2. The only Washington player with Stanley Cup Final experience entering the series, Orpik went 181 regular-season and 39 playoff games since scoring his last goal, against the Minnesota Wild, on Feb. 26, 2016.

* The Capitals' Game 2 victory guaranteed there would not be a sweep in the Final for the 19th consecutive year. The last time? In 1998, when Washington, in its first trip to the Final, was swept by the Detroit Red Wings.

* Teams winning Game 2 have gone on to win the Stanley Cup 74.4 percent of the time since the Final went to the best-of-7 format in 1939 (58-of-78 series), but only five times in the past nine years.

* Vegas continued its penchant for scoring the first goal of a home playoff game, doing it for the ninth straight time. Six of those nine have come in the opening eight minutes of the game, with center William Karlsson and forward James Neal each doing the honors twice.

 

Here are the headlines from Game 2:

 

Save of a lifetime  

Braden Holtby made one of the biggest saves in Final history, robbing Vegas forward Alex Tuch with a stick save. Washington coach Barry Trotz said the hockey gods played a role in the save. 

 

Capital loss

The Capitals played the final 45:18 of the game without forward Evgeny Kuznetsov, who was injured on a hit from Golden Knights defenseman Brayden McNabb

 

Eller yeah

With Kuznetsov out, forward Lars Eller stepped up big time for the Capitals to help them even the series. 

 

Not so Golden

The Golden Knights lost at home in the playoffs for the second time and find themselves in a battle with the Capitals for the Stanley Cup.

 

On the Marc

Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has allowed seven goals through the first two games of the Cup Final, but coach Gerard Gallant said he's not worried.

 

Big fans

Members of the Las Vegas Fire & Rescue Department made sure to watch Game 2 on Wednesday, when they could. NHL.com's Nick Cotsonika watched the game with some of Las Vegas' bravest.

 

Your honor

Who was hot? Who was not in Game 2. Check out our honor roll and stock report from the Capitals win.

 

Wednesday, May 30
12:15 p.m.
What's on Tap

Washington Capitals at Vegas Golden Knights (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS) -- The Golden Knights can take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 series with a win at T-Mobile Arena. No team has won the Cup after losing the first two games since 2011, when the Boston Bruins defeated the Vancouver Canucks in seven games after losing Games 1 and 2 on the road.

The Capitals have to tighten up in their own zone after turnovers and missed coverages led to four of Vegas' six goals in Game 1.

Though his team won 6-4, Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury allowed four goals for the fourth time in this postseason; he has responded each time with a win in the following game and had a combined 2.23 goals-against average and .932 save percentage (seven goals on 103 shots) in those three games.

Vegas is trying for its eighth win in nine home playoff games; Washington seeks its ninth win in 12 road games.

 

Facts and figures

The Golden Knights can become the sixth team in NHL history to win at least 14 of its first 17 games in a single postseason. Each of the five clubs to do so went on to win the Stanley Cup: the Edmonton Oilers (1985, 1987 and 1988), New York Islanders (1981) and Los Angeles Kings (2012).

The Golden Knights also will try to take a 2-0 series lead for the second time this postseason; they won Games 1 and 2 at home in the Western Conference First Round en route to sweeping the Kings. Since the Final went to the best-of-7 format in 1939, teams have taken a 2-0 series lead 51 times; 46 of those clubs (90.2 percent) have won the Stanley Cup. That includes each of the past four instances, twice each by the Kings (2012 and 2014) and Pittsburgh Penguins (2016 and 2017).

Home teams have swept the opening two games of the Stanley Cup Final 39 times during that span, winning the championship 36 times (92.3 percent). Each of the three losses came in series that went seven games: the 1971 Montreal Canadiens rallied past the Chicago Blackhawks; the 2009 Penguins, including current Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, defeated the Detroit Red Wings; and the 2011 Boston Bruins overcame the deficit against the Vancouver Canucks.

Teams winning Game 2 in the Final have gone on to win the Stanley Cup 74 percent of the time (58 of 78) since the Final went to the best-of-7 format in 1939. However, Game 2 winners are only 5-4 (56 percent) in the past nine years. The team winning Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final also has won Game 2 in 10 of the past 12 years, including the Pittsburgh Penguins last season against the Nashville Predators. The only splits in that span came in 2013 (Chicago won Game 1, the Boston Bruins won Game 2) and 2015 (Chicago won Game 1, the Tampa Bay Lightning won Game 2).

Teams have split the opening two games of the Final on 27 occasions since 1939, with the road team in Games 1 and 2 winning the Cup in eight of those series. Only once in the past 32 years has the lower seed gone on to win the Cup in a Final that was tied 1-1: the 2015 Blackhawks split the first two games in Tampa before winning the Cup for the third time in six seasons.

The Capitals will try to even the best-of-7 series as they aim to become the second team in NHL history to win the Cup despite trailing in all four rounds. The 1991 Penguins faced a series deficit in each round, eventually defeating the Minnesota North Stars in six games in the Final.

The Capitals led twice in Game 1 but find themselves trailing in a series for the fourth time this postseason. They also lost Game 1 in the Eastern Conference First Round against the Columbus Blue Jackets (a series in which they trailed 2-0) and in the second round against the Penguins, and fell behind 3-2 in the Eastern Conference Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning before winning Games 6 and 7.

The Golden Knights have had 10 different players score their 13 game-winning goals in this year's playoffs, with forward Tomas Nosek joining the list in Game 1. Vegas is the 25th team in NHL history and third in as many years to have at least 10 different players score a game-winning goal in one playoff year. Eight clubs have had game-winning goals from 11 players, but it's happened three times in the past five postseasons -- the 2014 Kings, 2016 Penguins and 2017 Nashville Predators.

Fleury, who had all 16 wins during Pittsburgh's championship run in 2009, can become the 11th goaltender in NHL history to have his name on the Stanley Cup at least four times, and the fourth to do so with multiple clubs. He also can become the first goaltender in NHL history and eighth player overall to win the Cup in consecutive years with different teams. He would be the first since forward Cory Stillman did it in 2004 with the Lightning and 2006 with the Carolina Hurricanes.

Washington is 8-3 on the road this postseason, outscoring opponents 40-26. The record for road wins in one playoff year is 10; it's held by four teams, three of which won the Stanley Cup: the 1995 New Jersey Devils (10-1), 2000 Devils (10-2) and 2012 Los Angeles Kings (10-1). The 2004 Calgary Flames (10-4) also won 10 road games but lost the Final to the Lightning in seven games.

Washington captain Alex Ovechkin (607 goals) is making his Stanley Cup Final debut in his 13th NHL season. Dave Andreychuk is the only player who scored more regular-season goals prior to making his Cup Final debut; he had 634 when he played for Tampa Bay in 2004.

Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov had an assist in Game 1, extending his franchise-record postseason point streak to 11 games (six goals, 10 assists). It's the longest point streak by any player in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2010 and fifth-longest since 1997.

 

Tuesday, May 29
9:30 p.m.

The Capitals and Golden Knights each practiced Tuesday in preparation for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday. The Capitals practiced at empty T-Mobile Arena while the Golden Knights worked out in front of a big crowd at City National Arena. 
 

Here are some of the highlights from the off day:

Been there, done that

Trailing in a series is nothing new to the Capitals this postseason, a reason they are confident heading into Game 2.

 

Picking up Fleury

Marc-Andre Fleury wasn't his spectacular self in Game 1, but his Golden Knights teammates certainly picked him up.

 

Minor issue

Ryan Reaves has come a long way with the Golden Knights since apologizing to coach Gerard Gallant for taking too many penalties when he was first traded to Vegas.

 

Vegas, babies

Talk about starting them young. The Golden Knights and their mascot, Chance, gave out gifts to their youngest fans.

 

Tuning in

Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final set ratings records in Las Vegas and Washington.

 

Facts and figures

* The Golden Knights and Capitals traded the lead four times in Game 1, marking the third time in Stanley Cup Playoff history, and the first time in the Final, that has occurred. The others were Game 2 of the 1936 quarterfinals, when the Chicago Black Hawks defeated the New York Americans 5-4, and Game 2 of the 1992 division semifinals, when the Los Angeles Kings defeated the Edmonton Oilers 8-5.

* Vegas forward Jonathan Marchessault, with an assist in Game 1, set the record for most points in the Stanley Cup Playoffs by a player with a team in its inaugural postseason. Marchessault has 19 points (eight goals, 11 assists) in 16 games, and surpassed the record of 18 points, co-held by center Jude Drouin of the New York Islanders (six goals, 12 assists in 17 games in 1975) and center Igor Larionov of the San Jose Sharks (five goals, 13 assists 14 games in 1994).

Golden Knights forward Reilly Smith, with a goal and an assist in Game 1, has 18 points (three goals, 15 assists) in 16 games this postseason.

Video: WSH@VGK, Gm1: Smith cleans up loose puck in front

* Vegas is 7-1 at T-Mobile Arena during the playoffs, outscoring the opposition 31-16. Its lone loss this postseason was a 4-3 double-overtime defeat against the Sharks in Game 2 of the Western Conference Second Round.

* Since the Final went to the best-of-7 format in 1939, the team that has won Game 1 has gone on to capture the Stanley Cup 78.2 percent of the time (61 of 78 series), including in each of the past six years. The Boston Bruins were the last team to rally for a series victory after losing Game 1 of the Final, winning in seven games against the Vancouver Canucks in 2011.

* Ten goals were scored in Game 1, the most in any Stanley Cup Final game since Game 4 in 2013, when the Blackhawks defeated the Bruins 6-5 in overtime.

* Golden Knights forward Tomas Nosek scored his first game-winning goal and had his first multi-goal game in the NHL, playing in his 97th career game in the League. Heading into Game 1, Nosek had 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in 67 NHL regular-season games, and three points (one goal, two assists) in 12 playoff games.

It was déjà vu in a sense for Nosek, who scored the winning goal for Grand Rapids against Syracuse in Game 1 of the Calder Cup Final last season.

* Vegas forward Ryan Reaves scored the tying goal 1:31 after Washington took the lead 1:10 into the third period, marking the fifth time in the past six games Vegas scored within two minutes after an opponent.

* With a second-period goal in Game 1, Capitals defenseman John Carlson set a Washington record for most all-time playoff goals by a defenseman with 17. Carlson had been tied with Kevin Hatcher (16).

Carlson, with 52 career points in the playoffs (17 goals, 35 assists) is one point from tying Scott Stevens for second place on the Capitals all-time postseason list. Stevens had 53 points (nine goals, 44 assists). Calle Johansson holds the Washington record with 54 points (12 goals, 42 assists).

* With an assist in Game 1, Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov extended his Washington record playoff scoring streak to 11 games, with 16 points (six goals, 10 assists).

 

About last night

Golden Knights 6, Capitals 4 -- The Golden Knights got goals from five players. Tomas Nosek scored the game-winner and an empty-net goal, and Colin Miller, William Karlsson, Reilly Smith and Ryan Reaves scored. Marc-Andre Fleury made 24 saves. Nicklas Backstrom had a goal and an assist, Brett Connolly, John Carlson and Tom Wilson scored, and T.J. Oshie had two assists for the Capitals. Braden Holtby made 28 saves.

 

What a Knight

The first Stanley Cup Final game in Vegas history was one to remember, in more ways than one.

 

Capitals gains

Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals stayed positive  despite the loss and said lessons learned in Game 1 will help them as the series progresses.

 

Get in line

The Golden Knights fourth line played a key role, which was not surprising because Vegas has been getting contributions from throughout the lineup all season.

 

Taking stock

Who was hot and who was not? Check out our honor roll and stock report.

 

Total recall

Relive all the action from with a look back at our Live Blog.

 

Ready to rumble

It wouldn't be Las Vegas without Michael Buffer pumping up the crowd with his booming voice and trademark phrase.

 

Party city

Before Golden Knights fans celebrated victory, they got the party started with a wild pregame celebration.

 

Monday, May 28
Orioles support Capitals

Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter showed support for the Capitals, donning a jersey with his name and the No. 26 prior to the Orioles game against the Washington Nationals on Monday.

 

Game 1 is here

The Stanley Cup Final between the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights begins at Vegas on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS). NHL.com senior writer Dan Rosen sets the stage for a matchup no one would have predicted at the start of the season.

 

Start 'em up

What do the Capitals and Golden Knights need to do to start the Final on the right foot? Find out in the 5 Keys for Game 1.

 

Ovechkin focused

Alex Ovechkin is playing in his first Cup Final, but the moment does not appear to be too big for him.

 

His town

No one is enjoying the Golden Knights' run to the Cup Final more than Deryk Engelland .

 

Live from Vegas

Get ready for a new pregame show only on Facebook.

 

Cup coverage

Get up-to-the-minute coverage of the Stanley Cup Final.

 

Facts and figures

How important is winning Game 1 in the Stanley Cup Final?

Consider that since the NHL adopted the best-of-7 format for the Final in 1939, the team that has won Game 1 has gone on to win the Cup 78.2 percent of the time (61 of 78 series), including each of the past six years. The 2011 Boston Bruins were the last team to win the Final after losing Game 1; they defeated the Vancouver Canucks in seven games.

Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury will enter his fifth Stanley Cup Final trying for his third Game 1 shutout at home in this year's playoffs. Fleury and the Golden Knights defeated the Los Angeles Kings 1-0 in the opener of the Western Conference First Round and won 7-0 against the San Jose Sharks to start the second round. Fleury is trying to become the first goaltender and eighth player in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup in consecutive years with different teams. He won with the Pittsburgh Penguins last year (as well as in 2009 and 2016).

Forward Jonathan Marchessault leads the Golden Knights in playoff scoring with 18 points (eight goals, 10 assists). He needs one point to break the NHL record for most points by a player with a team in its first postseason; Marchessault shares the record with Jude Drouin of the 1975 New York Islanders and Igor Larionov of the 1994 Sharks.

 

Sunday, May 27
Media Day
 
6:13 p.m.
New gig for Reaves

Golden Knights forward Ryan Reaves, who scored the series-clinching goal in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final against the Winnipeg Jets, took on a new role during Media Day: NHL Network reporter.

Video: Tuch gets interviewed by reporter Ryan Reaves

Reaves broke into defenseman Brayden McNabb's media session to ask him how he keeps his curly hair so tight and said, "You must be a lady killer."

"I don't know, I was blessed with curly hair, and the product I use, it really gets it going," McNabb said.

Tweet from @drosennhl: Andre Burakovsky is the new Capitals beat reporter for @NHLNetwork. pic.twitter.com/MtjZ42S4Es

Reaves wasn't the only player to grab a microphone Sunday. Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky also got into the act.

 
Look, don't Tuch

Golden Knights forward Alex Tuch couldn't help but notice the Stanley Cup at the other end of the room when it was his turn to do interviews at Media Day.

"I looked at it a couple times walking in," he said.

But the 22-year-old from Syracuse, New York, was careful not to get too close. Like most players, he's superstitious about touching the Cup without winning it first.

That dates back to his childhood.

"I've been next to it," Tuch said. "I took my picture with it at [Hockey] Hall of Fame in Toronto, but didn't touch it even when I was 8 years old."

 

Gold jacket required

Gerard Gallant is not only the coach of the Vegas Golden Knights, he's also their fashion guru.

It turns out it was Gallant's shiny gold jacket that defenseman Brad Hunt wore while reading the lineup for Game 5 of the Western Conference Final against the Winnipeg Jets.

The lineup reading, which was featured in the fourth episode of the behind-the-scenes series "Quest for the Stanley Cup," sparked Vegas on to the series-clinching win.

"[Gallant] was like, 'Throw this on and let it fly,'" said Hunt, who has helped rally the Golden Knights despite being a healthy scratch for every game in the playoffs. "It's been something so cool to be able to do that, it's been an incredible experience."

As for what he has planned for Game 1, Hunt isn't saying.

"It's a secret," said Hunt, who had 18 points (three goals, 15 assists) in 45 regular-season games. "You guys will have to find out."

 
Remember me? 

Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly and Vegas Golden Knights forward William Karlsson were teammates with the Anaheim Ducks in 2014-15. They also played together in Norfolk of the American Hockey League in 2013-14.

This season, Karlsson had 78 points (43 goals, 35 assists) with the Golden Knights.

Smith-Pelly was impressed by what Karlsson did at the NHL level when they were teammates, even with a limited opportunity. Karlsson had three points (two goals, one assist) in 18 games with the Ducks.

"He was a good player there too," Smith-Pelly said. "He made the team out of camp one year and was playing power play, penalty kill. He was doing the same things he's doing now behind a couple of guys there.

"Playing with him in the minors (Norfolk) and playing with him in Anaheim, I knew he was very skilled and a good player.

"I don't know if I knew he was going to score 40 goals. I knew he was a good, good player and with a bigger role he would put up some numbers."

 

Setting the stage
3:15 p.m. ET

Media Day at T-Mobile Arena marks the official start of the Cup Final. Members of the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights will meet the media in preparation for Game 1 of the best-of-7 series here on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS).

To get you ready, here's a rundown of the stories we have generated in advance of the series:

Playing in Vegas is different than playing anywhere else, for a variety of reasons. The Capitals believe they are ready for the challenge. Tom Gulitti explains why.

Jonathan Marchessault has been the breakout star for the Golden Knights, leading them in scoring, as well as motivation. Lisa Dillman has the story behind his maturation this season.

How good has Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury been this postseason? Good enough to win the Conn Smythe Trophy even if the Golden Knights lose the Final? Our writers debated the point.

What makes Capitals coach Barry Trotz tick? Nobody knows better than NBC announcer Kenny Albert, who spent the first few seasons of his career rooming with Trotz during road trips with the Baltimore Skipjacks of the American Hockey League. Check out Albert's tribute to his former roommate.

Who is guiding the Golden Knights through the all the glitz and glamour that surrounds being on hockey's biggest stage? The two men on the roster who have been here before; Fleury and forward James Neal.

One day, they will make a movie about the inaugural season of these Golden Knights. But who will play the roles of the players? We asked them.

Forward David Perron was a long shot to make the NHL, and like his Golden Knights, he has made the most of his opportunity. Shawn Roarke looks at how Perron beat the odds to get here.

Washington general manager Brian MacLellan goes back a long way with Vegas GM George McPhee, even further than when they worked together with the Capitals. Tom Gulitti explores the relationship from MacLellan's viewpoint.

Peter Bondra and Olaf Kolzig played for the Capitals in 1998, when they last reached the Final. They hope the wait for a title ends this June.

How do the goalies stack up in the Stanley Cup Final? Kevin Woodley, our goalie guru, broke down the tape to examine the strengths and weaknesses of Fleury and Braden Holtby.

Here is the comprehensive preview of the Stanley Cup Final.

***

Stanley Cup Final Coverage

Golden Knights vs. Capitals

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