Vegas spared no expense in the pregame ceremonies, with just about as much flash frills as you can fit. Once the puck dropped, the game was no different. For the sake of hockey fans everywhere, let’s hope this one goes 7.
With incredible pace the Golden Knights jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a power play goal from Colin Miller at 7:15 into the period. The majority of the period Vegas heavily out played the Capitals out shooting them 7-1 in the first half of the period. The incredible pace kept up throughout the first period which ended in a flurry. The Capitals would dominate the last 5 minutes and net a pair within a minute and 20 seconds of each other the first from Brett Connolly and the second from Nicklas Backstrom. Connolly’s goal came off a beautiful redirection of a Kempny Slapper and Backstom’s goal came from crashing the net and cleaning up an Oshie wraparound. With under 2 minutes left in the period Vegas tied the game when William Karlsson cleaned up a shot from Riley Smith and we finally had a chance to take a breath heading into the first intermission tied 2-2.
Vegas certainly looked like they did their homework on Holtby, throwing pucks at the net and working him into into giving up rebounds and taking advantage. For the most part Holtby was up to the task making the Golden Knights work for each of their goals and holding his ground. Once the Capitals woke up their game plan came together nicely, moving well without the puck and crashing the net on both ends.
The second period began it was much of the same from both side, Vegas pelting pucks at the net and Washington crashing the crease. Vegas broke the tie at 3:21 as Rielly Smith netted the puck cleaning up a big rebound. John Carlson tied the game at 3 at the 8:29 mark on a beautiful give and go play with Oshie and again we went to the locker room with a tie game. Heading into break the Golden Knights held the edge in shots at 25 to 18.
The third period started just as fast as the previous periods, and the Capitals jumped out to a 4-3 lead when Tom Wilson netted his 4th of the playoffs 1:10 into the period when Wilson crashed the net and cleaned up an Ovechkin shot while falling to the ice. The capitals controlled play for most of the period, but when Vegas had chances they capitalized. A minute and 30 seconds after Washington took the lead, Vegas tied it up again on a questionable goal from Ryan Reeves after cross checking Carlson in the back and knocking him over. Tomas Nosek put Vegas up for good at the 9:44 mark off a one timer from a beautiful threaded pass to the far post from Shea Theodore. Washington kept knocking on the door firing shot after shot on Marc-Andre Fleury but he proved up to task as the minutes waned. The Capitals best chance to tie the game again came with about 40 seconds left, when after a barrage of chances, Oshie slid the puck through the crease and Tom Wilson missed a chance to bury it. Withstanding the final punches from Washington, Tomas Nosek added an empty netter with 2.6 seconds left to seal the the game one victory for the Golden Knights.
If this is the type of game we have to look forward to every night in this series then we are in for a treat. The incredible pace of play from both teams held for the full 60 minutes in what was easily the fastest game of the playoffs to date. Although it was high scoring, there weren’t any cheap goals and both net-minders made the opposition work for their tallies. Vegas came out on top in game 1, but if this is any indication for series to come it’s going to be a long and exciting one. Puck drop for game two from Los Vegas will be Wednesday at 8:00pm eastern.
Three Stars of the Game:
* Reilly Smith: 1G, 1A, +0, 2 Shots in 20:34 TOI
** TJ Oshie: 0G, 2A, +0, 3 Shots in 19:30 TOI
*** Tomas Nosek: 2G, 0A, +3, 3 Shots in 12:22 TOI
Summary of Stats:
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