Photo Courtesy: USA Today

Caps Fall to Knights in Game 1

May 29, 2018 - 10:21 am

By Joe Schiller

In one of the most highly anticipated Stanley Cup Finals matchups in quite some time, Game 1 certainly didn’t disappoint. The Washington Capitals came into Monday night riding high off two dominant Eastern Conference Finals games over the Tampa Bay Lightning but ran into their toughest opponent yet.

Vegas put on a fantastic pregame show and those fireworks carried over on the ice for three straight periods. The Caps held the upper hand heading into the third period but couldn’t survive an offensive explosion from the Knights in a 6-4 loss.

Between two dominant netminders in Braden Holtby and Marc-André Fleury, many expected this to be a defensive oriented series. If Game 1 is any indication of what’s to come, that’s not going to be the case whatsoever. The two sides combined for 10 goals in a thrilling performance that kept fans on the edge of their seats until the final seconds trickled off the clock.

The Caps looked shaky to start, struggling to keep any offensive possessions and create ample scoring chances. An Andre Burakovsky boarding penalty gave the Knights the first power play of the game and defenseman Colin Miller connected on a slap shot past Holtby.

The goal opened up the floodgates and the Caps quickly answered with an incredible deflection score from Brett Connolly and a goal from Nicklas Backstrom less than a minute apart from each other. While he didn’t score, T.J. Oshie was magnificent, tallying two assists and setting the tone physically.

It was a back-and-forth game throughout and each time one side took the advantage, the other answered. Goals by Reilly Smith and John Carlson knotted things up heading into the third period but the Knights proved to have the upper hand with three unanswered goals.

Controversy from both sides stole the headlines. Tom Wilson absolutely crushed Jonathan Marchessault with a hit at center ice in the second period and somehow avoided a costly penalty by the discretion of the referees. Ryan Reaves provided some of his own, scoring the game-tying goal but clearly cross-checking John Carlson in front of the net to open up space. But it was defensive breakdowns and costly rebounds haunted the Caps as Holtby looked average coming off back-to-back shutdown performances.

The Caps will have to be stronger defensively to win this series but playing behind has been a familiar feeling all postseason long. Despite falling in Game 1, Washington still leaves the arena confident in their ability to tie the series up on Wednesday night.