Capitals vs Golden Knights

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Before the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights met in Game One of the Stanley Cup Final, there wasn’t any indication on who may play the role of hero in the series. It could have been notable scorers like William Karlsson and Alex Ovechkin or either of the two superstar goaltenders on each team. There was little to no expectation of Vegas’ fourth line to be the team’s saving grace during the Golden Knights’ 6-4 win on Monday night.Vegas’ fourth line consisting of Ryan Reaves, Tomas Nosek and Pierre-Eduoard Bellemarre entered the Stanley Cup Final combined for five points. But four of the five points came in the final two games of the conference finals. They appeared to be trending in the right direction. As Washington and Vegas were tied entering the final period, the trio outscored Washington 3-1 propelling the Golden Knights to take a 1-0 series lead over the Capitals in the best-of-seven series.

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As everything from Lil Jon to the pregame theatrics settled, Vegas struck first. Vegas’ defenseman Colin Miller scored his third goal of the playoffs — on the power play. It was a telling sign that it was about to be a goal-abundant affair between Vegas and Washington.

Brett Connolly and Nicklas Backstrom proceeded Vegas’ first tally with two of their own. Washington, who had been outshot for the majority of the first period, finally had the break they needed. But Karlsson, with under two minutes remaining, scored to bring the game back to a gridlock.

Reilly Smith took advantage of Braden Holtby’s unfortunate rebound control at 3:21 of the second period. Smith, who led Vegas with two points, roofed the puck past Holtby. John Carlson and the Capitals responded five minutes later. The teams, like the first period, ended the second tied.

MORE: Stanley Cup Final: Tom Wilson shakes up Jonathan Marchessault with huge, illegal hit

Washington thought they gained the upper-hand over Vegas. Tom Wilson was credited on Marc-Andre Fleury’s unsuspecting own-goal and the Capitals led for 1:31 before Reaves broke the tie. Nosek added two goals later to extend the Vegas lead and seal the victory for the home team.

Fleury made 24 saves, while Holtby made 28. Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final will be on Wednesday, May 30. You never know what you’ll see at a Vegas Golden Knights game. Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final included famous ring announcer Michael Buffer giving a “Let’s get ready to rumble” introduction before the opening faceoff.

Lee Greenwood sang God Bless the USA and Gladys Knight sang God Bless America. Boxing great Floyd Mayweather was in the stands. Wasn’t that classic video of the late Freddie Mercury on a scoreboard?

But for all of the surprises the expansion Golden Knights provide off the ice, they are predictably consistent in their resiliency on the ice. The Golden Knights again were a study in perseverance as they rallied twice to down the Washington Capitals 6-4 to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven Stanley Cup Final.

“To be able to bounce back from a bad shift, or a goal, or something doesn’t go our way, is one of the strengths of this team,” said Vegas tough guy Ryan Reaves, who tied the game 4-4 in the third period.

After Tom Wilson scored at 1:10 of the third period to give the Capitals a 4-3 lead, Reaves answered at 2:41. After Wilson sent Jonathan Marchessault to the dressing room with a heavy hit that he didn’t see coming, fourth-liner Tomas Nosek scored what proved to be the game-winner at 9:44 of the period. He also added an empty-netter.

Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said he believes the Wilson hit should have been a major penalty. “(But) we got two goals after that,” he said. “Good reach from our team.”

The 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Finals begin tonight when the Vegas Golden Knights host the Washington Capitals for Game 1. This highly anticipated showdown is the opener of a best-of-seven series that will ultimately crown a first-time champion. The Golden Knights, hot off the best expansion season and subsequent postseason run in history, will try to cap off their incredible inaugural campaign by hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup. The Washington Capitals, making their first Finals appearance since 1998, are hoping that Alex Ovechkin—the team’s captain who was instrumental in breaking D.C.’s two decade streak of seasons without even a conference finals appearance in the wake of a sweep by the Detroit Red Wings—and his teammates can overcome the odds one last time to etch their names on the most difficult trophy to win in all of sports.

Speaking of odds, the linesmakers have opened the Golden Knights as a favorite for both Game 1 and the series. The team is a -160 favorite (risk $1.60 to win $1) to win the Stanley Cup Finals and -150 to claim a Game 1 victory on home ice tonight. The Caps are +140 underdogs (returning $1.40 for every $1 wagered) for the series and +135 for the opener. Washington has a proven ability to come through on the road, however, having won three times in Tampa Bay to vanquish the top-seeded Lightning in the Eastern Conference Finals. Bettors should note that the club is 5-0 against the spread in its last five away contests and 13-2 straight up in the past 15 road matchups. Vegas has been equally dominant at T-Mobile Arena though, outright winning eight of its last nine home games.

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