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Stanley Cup Final | Golden Knights vs. Capitals

Stanley Cup Final

Golden Knights look to keep it simple against Capitals in Game 3

Cutting down mistakes on defense key to taking lead in Stanley Cup Final

by Tracey Myers @TraMyers_NHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- Gerard Gallant said he has yet to see the Vegas Golden Knights' best postseason hockey in the Stanley Cup Final.

 

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

 

"Our best hockey was probably Game 5 in the Winnipeg [Jets, Western Conference Final] series and Game 2 in that series," the Vegas coach said Friday. "The good thing about that is both of those games were on the road and we played good, solid hockey."

The Golden Knights will try to get back to that simple, effective game when they play the Washington Capitals in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final at Capital One Arena on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS).

Vegas is 6-2 on the road in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. But no matter where they're playing, the Golden Knights want to clean up their game.

"We've got to limit their high-quality scoring chances," Vegas forward Ryan Reaves said. "I think too many shots from the slot, too many backdoor tap-ins, too many backdoor shot chances. That's part of their game. They like to go seam in the offensive zone. So we've got to tighten up in their [defensive] zone for sure. Too many mistakes at both blue lines, I think. Trying to be too cute coming out of our zone, getting it into their zone. We get back to the simple 'Get it out, get it in' mentality, we'll be good."

The Golden Knights were not happy with their defensive coverage in a 3-2 loss in Game 2. Vegas gave up too many odd-man rushes and had coverage breakdowns; Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny was wide open to set up forward Lars Eller's goal in the first period. Vegas also had 12 giveaways in Game 2.

Video: WSH@VGK, Gm2: Eller pots Kempny's nice pass

"The first two games, we just didn't feel like ourselves, whether it was on the bench or on the ice. I just think we need to, externally, which would be on the ice, we've got to make sure we just simplify it," Golden Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt said. "I know it sounds basic, but I think we're getting caught into doing things that we usually aren't doing, which is turning the puck over a lot. That's something that we do really well, is not doing that, and I think that's the biggest thing going into Game 3 what we need to do."

Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury hasn't been as strong this series. After allowing 10 goals in five games to the Jets in the conference final, he's allowed seven goals in two games against the Capitals.

"I think first [it's] just putting that loss behind us," Fleury said. "Move on from our mistakes put it behind and make sure we get a good start tomorrow night. I think we know that we can play the way we want to play. I think we've shown it as a group what to do. Just got to execute it."

The Golden Knights are 13-4 this postseason, so they've been good at shaking off what few mistakes and bad games they've had.

"You try to do too much sometimes, you try to do too much in the neutral zone, trying to make plays that aren't there," Gallant said. "Just keep the game simple, played how you did all season long. It's too late to change now. Play your game the best you can."

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