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game recap

Golden Knights defeat Capitals in back-and-forth Game 1 of Cup Final

Nosek scores tiebreaking goal midway through third period

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

LAS VEGAS -- The Vegas Golden Knights got goals from five players, including three from two fourth-line forwards in the third period, to defeat the Washington Capitals 6-4 in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena on Monday.

 

[WATCH: All Capitals vs. Golden Knights highlights | Complete Golden Knights vs. Capitals series coverage]

 

Ryan Reaves tied the game at 2:41 of the third, and Tomas Nosek gave Vegas the lead at 10:16 before scoring an empty-net goal with three seconds remaining.

Defenseman Colin Miller and forwards William Karlsson and Reilly Smith scored for the Golden Knights. Marc-Andre Fleury made 24 saves.

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

Brett Connolly, Nicklas Backstrom, John Carlson and Tom Wilson scored, and Braden Holtby made 28 saves for the Capitals. The five goals are the most allowed by Holtby since he gave up six against the Chicago Blackhawks on Feb. 17, a span of 30 games.

Game 2 of the best-of-7 series is here Wednesday.

"I think as a whole we can play a lot better, which is exciting to me," Washington coach Barry Trotz said. "I know we have another level in our game. It's got to be our whole roster."

Reaves has scored in back-to-back games, including the series-clinching goal in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final against the Winnipeg Jets, after he did not score in his first five games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and final 23 in the regular season (21 with Vegas after being acquired Feb. 23 in a trade from the Pittsburgh Penguins).

Nosek has scored three goals in three games after not scoring in his first 10 postseason games.

"It's great when you see those guys get rewarded," Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. "They're a big part of our group. It's nice to see those guys chip in with some goals. They got three huge goals for us tonight in the third period."

There were four lead changes, with the Golden Knights giving up leads of 1-0 in the first period and 3-2 in the second, and the Capitals blowing leads of 2-1 in the first and 4-3 in the third.

"A lot of times you feel like the game is going in one direction, and then they score and we score," Vegas defenseman Nate Schmidt said. "A lot of emotion. You've just got to make sure you keep it in check. It was a pretty emotional game for everybody.

"The fans got their money's worth tonight."

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

The Golden Knights took a 1-0 lead when Miller scored on the power play with a slap shot from inside the right point at 7:15 of the first period. The Capitals went ahead 2-1 8:08 later on goals 42 seconds apart by Connolly (14:41) and Backstrom (15:23).

Vegas responded with Karlsson's goal to tie it 2-2 at 18:19.

"It happens a lot when the other team scores in the playoffs, and then we go out and score," Reaves said. "I just think that's just been one of our strengths."

The Golden Knights took a 3-2 lead on Smith's goal at 3:21 of the second, but the Capitals tied it 3-3 on Carlson's goal off a give-and-go with T.J. Oshie at 8:29.

The back-and-forth continued early in the third, when Wilson scored on a deflection of Alex Ovechkin's shot at 1:10 to give Washington a 4-3 lead.

Reaves scored from the slot 1:31 later to tie it 4-4, and Nosek gave Vegas a 5-4 lead with a one-timer from below the right face-off circle off a pass through the slot from Shea Theodore, who was in the left circle near the wall.

Nosek moved from the front of the net to near the post to create more room for himself.

"I just focused on the puck," he said. "It was a hard pass and I just tell myself to keep focusing on the puck and hit it at the right time."

Nosek made it 6-4 with the empty-net goal.

"I believe every night we can get back in the game, it doesn't matter what the score is," Fleury said. "We did it tonight."

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

 

Goal of the game

Miller's goal at 7:15 of the first period.

Video: WSH@VGK, Gm1: Miller gets Vegas on the board first

 

Saves of the game

Fleury's saves against Ovechkin at 19:04 and 19:05 of the first period.

Video: WSH@VGK, Gm1: Fleury shuts down Ovechkin twice

 

Highlight of the game

Nosek's goal at 9:44 of the third period.

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

 

They said it

"We didn't play our best game. I think we didn't execute the puck in the neutral zone at some points. We're going to watch the video. We're going to watch the highlights and we're going to correct our mistakes. We're going to do better." -- Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin

 

"I don't think we had a game like that all playoffs, both teams answering the bell each time the other scored. I thought we did a great job of answering again. That's something we did well all playoffs." -- Golden Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt

 

Need to know

It was the first game in Stanley Cup Final history with four lead changes. There had been two in NHL playoff history, but none since Game 2 of the 1992 Smythe Division Semifinals, an 8-5 win for the Los Angeles Kings against the Edmonton Oilers. ... Golden Knights forward Jonathan Marchessault left the game at 5:53 of the third period following a hit from Wilson that resulted in an interference minor on the Capitals forward. Marchessault, who said he never saw the hit coming and felt it was late, returned with 7:25 remaining in the period. ... Marchessault's assist on Smith's goal was his 19th point of the playoffs, the most in NHL history by a player on a team making its first postseason appearance. ... Vegas is 7-1 at home in the playoffs and 11-1 when scoring first. … Carlson has 17 NHL playoff goals, the most by a defenseman in Capitals history. Kevin Hatcher held the record (16). … Washington center Evgeny Kuznetsov had an assist on Wilson's goal, extending his point streak to 11 games (six goals, 10 assists).

 

What's next

Game 2 of Stanley Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS)

 

Video: Golden Knights top Capitals to open Cup Final, 6-4

 

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