Vegas Knights at Washington Caps – Game 3
Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, District of Columbia
WASH DC – The Washington Capitals attempt to take the lead in the Stanley Cup finals when they host the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday night for Game 3, but they may have to do it without the leading scorer in the playoffs or one at less than 100 percent. Washington center Evgeny Kuznetsov, who boasts 25 points in the postseason, suffered an upper-body injury in Wednesday’s 3-2 victory and will likely be a game-time decision.“He’s a heck of a player with a pretty unique skill set,” Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen told reporters. “We have a little bit of a different look if he can’t play. … We’ll see if he’s ready to go for Game 3 or not, but we’ll cross that bridge when it comes.” Washington goaltender Braden Holtby, who made a remarkable save to preserve the lead late in Game 2, said his team must take advantage of their own rink while Vegas looks to convert its chances better after outshooting the Capitals 39-26 on Wednesday. “Nobody said it’s going to be a 4-0 series,” Vegas center Erik Haula told reporters. “It’s going to be ups and downs. We’ve been here before. We’ve been good on the road. Just put this behind, learn from your mistakes, just try to do things better, and that’s it.” Reilly Smith owns a goal and two assists in the series for the Golden Knights, tying fellow forward Jonathan Marchessault for the team lead with 19 points in the playoffs.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, CBC, Sportsnet, TVA
ABOUT THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS: Coach Gerard Gallant is looking for his team to win a few more battles in front of the net to capitalize on opportunities and get the home-ice advantage back in the series. “They played a grittier game than we did,” Gallant told reporters of Wednesday’s setback. “We still has chances to win that game, and we didn’t play a real bad game. It’s just that we didn’t pay a price enough to win. There were some things we’ve got to get better at.” Defenseman Shea Theodore has a goal and an assist in the first two games of the series and leads the team’s blueliners with nine points in the playoffs while posting a plus-5 rating.
ABOUT THE CAPITALS: Veteran defenseman Brooks Orpik scored Wednesday for his first goal in 220 games, including playoffs, since Feb. 26, 2016 and leads all players this postseason with a plus-16 rating. Captain Alex Ovechkin scored his 13th goal of the playoffs in Game 2 to push his total to 24 points – second on the team behind Kuznetsov – and has hit the scoresheet in 16 of his 21 postseason contests. Center Lars Eller, who Ovechkin calls the team’s “secret weapon,” would get a bigger role if Kuznetsov cannot go and the 29-year-old from Denmark registered a goal and two assists in the Game 2 triumph.
1. Vegas G Marc-Andre Fleury has allowed seven goals in the first two games after yielding six in the previous four.
2. Ovechkin needs one goal to tie John Druce (14 in 1989-90) for the franchise lead in a playoff season.
3. The Capitals have converted one of their three power-play opportunities in the series and the Golden Knights are 2-for-6.