Capitals Hope Not to Get Burned by Home Cooking in NHL Stanley Cup Finals

Posted on: June 1, 2018, 09:30h. 

Last updated on: June 1, 2018, 08:53h.

If Washington is going to win the Stanley Cup, the hockey team is going to have to play better at home. They get that chance Saturday in Game 3 at Capital One Arena when they host the Vegas Golden Knights in what is sure to be a tough match.

Braden Holtby
Washington goalie Braden Holtby’s save of Alex Tuch’s pointblank shot in the third period preserved the victory for the Capitals and tied the NHL Stanley Cup Finals series at 1-1. (Image: AP)

The series is tied at a game apiece and for the first time in the Finals, Vegas is not favored to win. The Capitals opened at -135 to win the third game of the best of seven series.

The public has not lost faith in the Golden Knights. The game was quickly bet down after the line was posted. Vegas opened at +115 and soon after it was adjusted at most Las Vegas sportsbooks to +110. Only the Wynn and Station casinos saw the odds hold at +115.

The Capitals have slipped to -130 and at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook they are all the way down to -120.

Home Record Woes

For some inexplicable reason, Washington has struggled at home during the playoffs. They are 4-5, including two losses in the first two games to the Columbus Blue Jackets, a team that they were supposed to beat easily.

Capitals’ defenseman John Carlson tried to justify the team’s woeful record in front of fans.

“We’ve put together some pretty darn good games at home that we just couldn’t find those little plays,” Carlson said. “There are big moments that we didn’t take advantage of in certain situations and that’s why our record is what is as at home and away.”

If they are going to win Game 3 and 4, they might be doing so without star center Evgeny Kuznetsov. He was knocked out of the game after a hit by Vegas defenseman Brayden McNabb late in the first period. He did not return, but captain Alex Ovechkin said the team rallied after their top scorer was knocked out.

“Good response by all of us,” Ovechkin said. “We lost our top guy. But those guys played extra minutes, extra shifts, and did whatever it takes.”

Riding Hot Goalie

Before the series began, Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was leading his team and putting himself as the favorite to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff’s MVP. His run to the Stanley Cup Finals has been one of the best in the modern era by a net minder.

“Flower” as he is called, had a .947 save percentage through three series. That mark is the best in NHL history for goalies, with at least 15 playoff games played. In that time he has compiled an 11-3 record, a 1.77 goals against average, and posted three shutouts.

But in two games, it’s his opponent, Braden Holtby, who has outshined the three-time Stanley Cup winning goalie. Holtby ensured the team’s Game 2 victory when he made an unbelievable save on an open net shot by Alex Tuch, blocking the shot with his stick.

Andre Burakovsky watched the play from the bench and couldn’t believe what he saw.

“I mean, my heart stopped on the bench,” Burakovsky said. “I mean, the last five minutes I never think I’ve been this nervous in my life. When he saved that, I was just, I mean, it’s unbelievable.”