The Washington Capitals are one game away from winning the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history after beating the Vegas Golden Knights 6-2 in Game 4 of the best-of-seven series. Washington leads the Stanley Cup Final three games to one.
James Neal scored on the power-play while Reilly Smith added a goal with 7:34 left in the third for Vegas. Marc-Andre Fleury collected 20 saves for the Golden Knights, who lost three straight postseason games for the first time in franchise history.
Washington has a chance to close out the series 8 p.m. Thursday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Here are three storylines from the game.
Washington Capitals Ferocious First
The first ten minutes belonged to the Golden Knights, but the Capitals swung momentum after Oshie corralled the puck and beat Fleury. Washington was able to add two goals with less than five minutes left by Wilson and Smith-Pelly.
Those late goals pretty much sealed the game for the Caps and the Knights couldn’t recover. Washington has been excellent at closing out games this postseason. This hasn’t been the same team that’s given up leads like they have in past playoff series.
Capitals coach Barry Trotz said they expected Vegas’ best shot in the first, but it was his team that was able to make a strong opening statement. One more strong first period may have Washington win its first Stanley Cup.
Golden Chances Missed
It could have been a different game if the Golden Knights were able to turn their early chances into goals. Neal had a wide-open net early in the first but missed hit the post. A goal in that spot would have taken the Capital One Arena crowd out of it early.
Neal’s miss wasn’t the only one as the Knights hit the post three times, including two straight in the second period. Those misses would have put Vegas back in the game and maybe given it a chance for a third-period rally.
Neal was able to score early in the third, but everyone will be talking about the goal that got away from him. Game 4 may have been a different story had he cashed that in.
Evgeny Kuznetsov was a question mark going into Game 3, but he’s answered them much like he has this entire postseason. The Russian forward dished out four assists to hit the 30-point mark to lead all scorers in the playoffs with 31.
The Capitals power play went three-for-six in Game 4 and a lot of that is thanks to Kuznetsov. There’s only so many players that can cover the Capitals’ top players. A Conn Smythe Trophy could be in his future if the Capitals win the Cup.
Brayden McNabb may be looking at a suspension or a fine after a cross-check to Oshie with 2:16 left in the game. It was a particularly nasty hit that may leave McNabb lighter in the wallet. McNabb got a minor and a 10-minute misconduct for the check.