The Vegas Golden Knights avoided a letdown in their first game back from the road trip by defeating the Washington Capitals 4-1 in Vegas on Saturday night.
Noteworthy: Goaltender Charlie Lindgren shut out the Golden Knights last month. Lindgren was absent from the morning skate due to a body maintenance issue. Darcy Kuemper was the only goalie on the ice for warmups for the Capitals. The Capitals called up Hunter Shepard from the Hersey Bears who were already in Charlotte for a game against the Checkers.
The game within the game: The Golden Knights and Capitals have been playing great defensive hockey. The Golden Knights have given up 58 goals in 23 games vs. the Capitals 55 goals in 20 games. Scoring is where the teams have separation. The Golden Knights have scored 78 goals vs. the Capitals 51. The game plan seems simple, the Golden Knights should want this to become a track meet type of game. If the teams trade chance for chance, the Golden Knights will come out on top. If it is a low-scoring game, the Capitals have a better chance to win.
First period: Tom Wilson took the game’s first penalty, which should surprise no one. Jack Eichel found Jonathan Marchessault with a nice pass from the right circle to just inside the blue line. Marchessault took the puck to the between the circles and beat Darcy Kuemper on the right side.
The Golden Knights outshot the Capitals 10-5 but the period seemed closer than the shot differential. The Capitals had their fair share of high-danger chances.
Second period: Eichel logged his fifth point in two games on a breakaway goal off a blown coverage by the Capitals’ defense. Ben Hutton made a good heads-up-play to send the puck up ice. Eichel caught the pass and knew exactly what to do with it.
The Golden Knights took a 2-0 advantage to the second intermission with a 28-9 shots on goal advantage.
Turning point: Eichel’s second-period goal put this one out of reach. The Capitals were out of sorts all night.
Third period: Eichel continued to have the hot hand. Mark Stone scored off of a gem of a pass from Eichel who carried the puck behind the net and made a no-look, backhand pass to Stone waiting beside the net.
Wilson scored a late goal with the extra attacker but Marchessault put the game away with an empty net goal to secure the victory.
Key storyline: Tonight’s victory by the Golden Knights was all about staying composed and outclassing their opponent. Wilson took himself out of the game mentally after his first-period penalty. Evgeny Kuznetsov dumped Marchessault late in the second period and chirped Marchessault to the bench as play continued.
Quotable: “They lost their cool early on and we kept ours.” Marchessault on the mindset of the Capitals.
“Our powerplay executed and got us buzzing early.” Stone on the key difference between the defeat of the Capitals and last Saturday’s loss to the Arizona Coyotes.
“The measuring stick is ourselves.” Coach Bruce Cassidy on what the Golden Knights measure themselves against. “We’re the defending champs and let’s focus on becoming the repeating champs.”
Next up: The Golden Knights take on the St. Louis Blues Monday night in Vegas.