Capitals even up series with Knights
Alex Ovechkin, Braden Holtby and the Washington Capitals stayed cool in the 100-degree Vegas heat and evened the Stanley Cup Final.
Holtby made 37 saves, Ovechkin scored a power-play goal and Lars Eller added a goal and two assists in the Capitals’ 3-2 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 2 on Wednesday night.
The Caps hung on through a scoreless third period for their first Stanley Cup Final victory in franchise history largely because of a bounce-back performance by Holtby, who was battered in Vegas’ 6-4 series-opening win.
Holtby capped his energetic performance with a jaw-dropping stick save with 1:59 to play, stretching back to rob Alex Tuch of a possible tying goal.
Brooks Orpik ended a personal 220-game drought with the eventual winning goal for the Caps, who rebounded from a ramshackle loss in the opener and handed the expansion Golden Knights only their second home defeat — the first in regulation — in Vegas’ nine postseason games.
James Neal and Shea Theodore scored and Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 23 shots for the upstart Knights, who couldn’t summon their usual clutch magic in the third period, even with lengthy man advantages.
Washington lost leading scorer Evgeny Kuznetsov to an upper-body injury in the first period after a big hit from Vegas defenseman Brayden McNabb. The Caps avoided any hotheaded retaliation and concentrated on a gritty effort that was enough to even the series.
The Caps are just 4-5 at home in the postseason, but they’ll ride a wave of momentum after going into the Golden Knights’ daunting home arena and taking away home-ice advantage in their first Stanley Cup Final in 20 years.
The Capitals have made the playoffs in 13 of 19 seasons since their only other trip to the Final in 1998, but hadn’t managed to get their fans back to the final round until this year.