Sunday, January 24, 2021

Capitals Survive Game 2, Level Series 1-1

The Washington Capitals pulled off a come from behind win to level the Stanley Cup Finals with a 3-2 win. In a game almost as good as game 1, the Caps came from a goal down early to tie the series at 1-1 heading back to Washington for game 3.

Golden Knights Strike Early

In what has become the pattern of this playoffs, the Vegas Golden Knights struck first once again. James Neal sniping the opener over Holtby’s glove after taking the puck in mid-air as Orlov tried to knock the puck away with his glove. Both goalies started the game much better than game 1, with chances more contested and things looked more composed.

It wasn’t until nearly 10 minutes later than Lars Eller equalized for the Capitals, putting into an almost empty net. It was a beautiful play by Michal Kempny, drawing Fleury out and faking his shot to the goalie on his knees. Then at the last second playing the puck cross-ice to the waiting Eller. Eller was bumped up to the second line after Evgeny Kuznetsov left the game in the 1st with a wrist injury. There’s been no word on the severity of the injury, but Kuznetsov did not return in game 2.

Eller And Holtby Shine for Capitals

Lars Eller once more stepped up in the second setting up Alex Ovechkin for his first goal in the finals. A beautiful pass across the crease leaving Fleury scrambling to get across to his right. Ovechkin banked the puck in off the goalie’s hand from a tight angle. It was Ovechkin’s 13th goal of the playoffs and gave the Capitals a 2-1 lead.

Eller then set up Brooks Orpik whose shot was deflected in off Alex Tuch’s hand. It was the first time since April 2014 that Orpik had scored in the playoffs and it gave the Capitals there first 2 goal lead of the series. Shea Theodore pulled the Golden Knights to within one, with a long-range shot past the glove hand of the unsighted Braden Holtby.

Holtby would not be beaten again on the night. With just over 2 minutes to go in the third, he made an amazing stick save to keep out Tuch. The crowd outside the arena were cheering long after the save, still believing the Knights had tied the game. Holtby saved 37 shots on the night, posting a .949 save percentage.

After one of the most entertaining opening games to the Stanley Cup Finals in years, game 2 was sure to be a letdown. Only it wasn’t. Game 2 got more physical, more nasty, and more exciting as it went on. Game 3 will be in Washington on Saturday night.

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