Published: Sat, June 02, 2018
Sports | By Toni Houston

'A magical story': Golden Knights, Capitals to face-off in Game 2

'A magical story': Golden Knights, Capitals to face-off in Game 2

"You've got to try and capitalize on those", Vegas defenseman Luca Sbisa said. Benched when the playoffs began, the 2015-16 Vezina Trophy victor had allowed an uncharacteristically high five goals during a Game 1 loss, including four at even strength.

That would be one heck of a deal for a truly gifted shooter who dominated the KHL since the 2013-14 season after generating exactly a point-per-game (816 points in as many contests) during his outstanding National Hockey League career. In total, Las Vegas experts estimate collective liability is somewhere between $5 million and $7 million if the Golden Knights win the Cup, thought to be the city's biggest loss on futures betting ever.

Kuznetsov, who tops the post-season scoring race with 25 points, took a big hit from Brayden McNabb later in the period and crumpled to the ice holding his left arm.

"To me, it was the hockey gods", Washington coach Barry Trotz said.

"We've had some games on the road where we've had no choice but to win", Washington winger Brett Connolly said.

With Kuznetsov out, Trotz added Nicklas Backstrom to his top line with Alex Ovechkin and Tom Wilson.

But the relentless Knights earned a power play and cut the Caps' lead to 3-2 late in the second when Theodore slipped a long shot through heavy traffic.

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"I think they got energy from that, I think they were pissed off, that's how sports go", Vegas forward Erik Haula said. TV can show you the systems and the replays and stuff like that that are great, but you can't capture the buzz, the excitement, the noise, the seats shaking because of people stamping their feet, the smell of the ice, the feel of the frozen ice coming up in your face. It's no excuse for us. "Once he made that save, I knew we were going to win the game". His puck-moving skills helped stymie Vegas's feared forecheck, like the head fake and backhanded pass that he threw with 40 seconds remaining and opposing goalie Marc-Andre Fleury pulled. The Golden Knights also had 12 turnovers compared to Washington's four.

"Every time we have faced adversity, everyone steps up", Eller said. "At the end of the day you really have got to see where your game is at". You get an all-in mentality.

Eller then set up Brooks Orpik, who didn't have a goal in the regular season and last scored in the playoffs all the way back in April, 2014, on a shot that struck the leg of Vegas forward Cody Eakin and bounced past Fleury at 9:41 to make it 3-1. It was his first goal since February 26, 2016.

"I mean, my heart stopped on the bench", Washington's Andre Burakovsky said.

Gallant tipped his hat to the Capitals, saying they deserved to win Game 2 based on how they performed after losing Kuznetsov.

The Capitals are staying at the massive Mandarin Oriental, just down the street from T-Mobile Arena.

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