Live Blog: Golden Knights lead Capitals after 1 period
Live Blog: Golden Knights lead Capitals after 1 period
There was skill and speed in the first period, sure - it got the Golden Knights their goals - but the first period between Vegas and the Washington Capitals was about physicality. Both sides tried out-muscle each other, and after a period at T-Mobile Arena on Monday the Golden Knights led 2-0.
The Golden Knights drew first blood thanks to some strong play from William Carrier and the fourth line. Carrier started it off getting behind the Washington defense and going in unopposed on a breakaway. His shot trickled through the crease and John Carlson cleared it but not out. Tomas Nosek collected it and fed Carrier, who saw Nick Holden jump in from the blue line and in front of the crease.
Holden redirected Carrier's pass at 3:43 to put the Golden Knights up 1-0. It was his fifth of the season with assists to Carrier and Nosek.
The Golden Knights had a second breakaway not long after, when Zach Whitecloud pulled out a beauty of a pass from his own zone to spring Cody Eakin, who was denied on his attempt.
Near the end of the period, Vegas struck again. It was a redirect again, this time off the stick of Reilly Smith. He was set up by Jonathan Marchessault at 17:17 and gave the Golden Knights a 2-0 lead.
The game had no shortage of big hits. Carrier staple-gunned Jonas Siegenthaler into the boards behind the Washington net, and Alex Ovechkin launched Nate Schmidt into the Vegas bench. Washington had a 21-18 edge in hits, led by Carrier and Nic Dowd with six apiece.
Vegas led in shots on goal 15-13.Golden Knights take on Capitals with Alex Ovechkin two goals from history
Golden Knights players know what Alex Ovechkin is capable of. And when he comes back to town this afternoon, he has a chance of making history again in Las Vegas.
Two years ago, the star winger led the Washington Capitals to their first Stanley Cup, and skated it around the T-Mobile Arena ice in celebration after ousting the Golden Knights in five games.
The Capitals return this afternoon with Ovechkin just two goals from becoming the eighth player in NHL history with 700 in his career. From his spot on the ice to his slapshot to his celebrations, the Golden Knights have a good idea what to expect when facing Ovechkin, particularly the players who used to line up with him.
"I was fortunate enough to get the chance to play with a guy like that because you see what he's doing," forward Chandler Stephenson said. "There's never a time where he's not on a roll or doing something."
Stephenson spent parts of five seasons with a front-row seat to arguably the greatest goal-scorer in the history of the sport. He spent his entire career with the Capitals before a December trade brought him to Vegas, and said playing with Ovechkin was a unique experience.
"He's kind of one of a kind," Stephenson said. "Everything from his skill to his size to his speed and he's just like a little kid at times too. Loves having fun, loves scoring goals."
He's the only Golden Knight that won the Cup with Ovechkin, but Nate Schmidt and Cody Eakin also played with him during their respective times with the Capitals. Marc-Andre Fleury has been part of four playoff series against him. And of course the Golden Knights faced him in the Cup Final in 2018 when he won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.
"To be able to say that you played with a guy like that, possibly the greatest scorer of all time if he continues on this pace, and it's hard because when he's rolling, he's rolling," Schmidt said. "When he gets going it's tough to stop him."
They're also familiar with his spot on the power play. Ovechkin has made a career out of positioning himself on the left circle and blasting one-timers into the net. He's so good at it that teams know he's going to do it, but can't stop him.
"It's not just the defensemen, our forward on that side of the ice has a responsibility in order to try to make him uncomfortable in that shooting area too," coach Peter DeBoer said. "Whoever is on the ice has to get the job done against him and has to have an awareness of what he does over there. And he does it better than maybe anybody in the history of the game."
Ovechkin's 700th goal may just be a stop on his way to immortality, whether it happens tonight or not. At 34-years-old, Ovechkin is in prime position to challenge Wayne Gretzky's all-time record of 894. He would need to play a few more seasons, but he's on pace for 58 this season, which would be the most since his age-22 season.
He's not slowing down. And his former teammates wouldn't be surprised if he gets there.
"Yeah it's obviously a legitimate chance with what he's done over the years," Stephenson said. "100% it's reachable."
TV: AT&T Sports Net (DirecTV 684, Cox 1313, CenturyLink 1760)
Radio: Fox Sports 1340 AM and 98.9 FM
Betting line: Golden Knights minus-135, Capitals plus-115; over/under: 6.5 (minus-110, minus-110)Golden Knights (30-22-8, 64 points) (16-10-4 home), third place, Pacific Division
Coach: Peter DeBoer (first season)
Points leader: Mark Stone (57)
Goals leader: Max Pacioretty (26)
Assists leader: Mark Stone (37)
Expected goalie: Marc-Andre Fleury (2.80 GAA, .905 save percentage)Capitals (37-16-5, 79 points) (21-7-1 road), first place, Metropolitan Division
Coach: Todd Reirden (second season)
Points leader: John Carlson (69)
Goals leader: Alex Ovechkin (40)
Assists leader: John Carlson (54)
Expected goalie: Braden Holtby (3.11 GAA, .897 save percentage)Golden Knights projected lineup Forwards
Jonathan Marchessault-Paul Stastny-Reilly Smith
Max Pacioretty-William Karlsson-Mark Stone
Chandler Stephenson-Cody Eakin-Cody Glass
William Carrier-Tomas Nosek-Ryan ReavesDefensemen
Brayden McNabb-Nate Schmidt
Jon Merrill-Shea Theodore
Nick Holden-Zach WhitecloudGoalies
Marc-Andre Fleury, Malcolm Subban
Justin Emerson can be reached at 702-259-8814 or [email protected] . Follow Justin on Twitter at twitter.com/@j15emerson.
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