Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Washington Capitals Strike Early, Lead Series 3-1

The Washington Capitals came established themselves quickly in game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals with 3 unanswered first-period goals. After routing the Golden Knights 6-2, the Capitals will look to clinch the series in Vegas on Thursday night.

Vegas Fail To Capitalise

The Golden Knights actually started the night the stronger of the two, opening with good pressure on the puck. They had the first 5 shots of the game, although much like in game 3 the accuracy wasn’t there, with only 2 reaching Braden Holtby. James Neal epitomizing the Knights struggles as he missed a wide-open net, striking the post from close in.

The Capitals managed just one shot on target in the opening 9 minutes. The turning point proved to be a careless tripping penalty on Colin Miller. Having failed to establish much in the offensive zone, Washington seized on the chance. Kuznetov’s shot from the front of the net was saved by Fleury, but the rebound gave Oshie an empty net. First controlling with his skate, Oshie greedily accepted the easy finish, lifted the puck over Fleury’s outstretched leg.

It was to prove decisive, as Wilson scored 7 minutes later, followed 3 minutes later by a Smith-Pelly goal from a tight angle. Both goals were the results of defensive mistakes, and the Knights seemed to have lost their composure a little. Fleury with little chance on either goal as he was once again moved quickly side to side. Washington have used this tactic a lot in the playoffs, and especially in the finals

Washington Capitals 3-1 up
Washington Capitals 3-1 up

Washington Capitals Seal The Game in Second Period

As Vegas continued to toil, the Capitals capitalized on another powerplay opportunity. A cross-ice pass from Kuznetsov finding Karlsson, whose slap shot beat Fleury from the circle. Although the Knights would pull back two goals in the third period through Neal and Smith it was to prove futile. Further Washington Capitals goals from Kempny and Connolly icing the game.

The Golden Knights kept fighting all-night but they just didn’t have enough. They hit the post multiple times on the night, and it seems the hockey gods may have sided against them tonight. It would be foolish to count Vegas out of the series just yet, but they have a mountain to climb. Two of the three remaining games will be at home in Vegas, but they must now win all three games.

Vegas will need to address several holes defensively going forward. The Capitals have been gaining ground on backdoor plays as Vegas fail to complete assignment switches, and sometimes dont finish plays with full effort. This is highlighted in the blocked shots. Once again the Capitals totally dominated in this area coming out on top by a staggering 24-8. When you consider that Vegas outshot Washington 30-23, that number could’ve been very different.

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