The series is now a best-of-five, with the Capitals in possession of the home ice advantage, as three of the final five games would be played at Capital One Arena. Game 4 is set for Monday Night at Capital One Arena, then the teams will return to Vegas for Game 5 on Thursday.
The Capitals return to the comfy confines of Capital One Arena to play a Stanley Cup Finals game for the first time in almost 20 years. The Detroit Red Wings finished their sweep of the Caps on June 16th, 1998, at (then) MCI Center. The difference this time is that the Capitals will be returning home with their first Stanley Cup Finals win under their belt and the series tied at one game apiece.
Evgeny Kuznetsov, who left the game in the first period of Game 2 with an upper body injury was on the ice for the Capitals optional practice on Friday. (Video here.) He looked (surprisingly) mobile, participating in most drills, and didn’t don a non-contact (light blue) practice jersey. Barry Trotz said Kuznetsov is a game time decision for Game 3.
— NoVa Caps (@NoVa_Caps) June 1, 2018
The last home playoff game for the Capitals was the Game 6, 3-0 beat-down of the Tampa Bay Lightning, where the Capitals played probably their best game of the season.
Braden Holtby, who has given up eight goals on 73 shots (.901 sv%) stopped 37 of 39 shots in Game 2, which included the franchise’s all-time save.
Washington is 4-5 at home in the playoffs. No team has won the Stanley Cup after losing as many as six home games in the playoffs.
We don’t anticipate any line changes, unless Kuznetsov should not be able to go Saturday night. The Capitals will hold a morning skate Saturday morning at 10:15 a.m. at a Kettler Capitals Iceplex, so we may learn more at that time.
VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS
The Knights also arrived in the DMV Thursday evening and held their Friday practice at Capital One Arena. The Knights will take an impressive 8-2 playoff road record into Capital One Arena on Saturday night. The Knights are also 3-0 following a loss in this year’s playoffs.
Photo: Vegas Knights
We don’t expect any changes to lines at the start of Game 3, but with the Capitals now at home, and dictating line matchups, look for minor in-game adjustments by the Knights early in the contest.
Following Wednesday’s game, defenseman Shea Theodore, who scored a goal in the loss, told NHL.com the team also needs to be more aware of Washington’s physicality. With that in mind, using their nimble feet might come in handy in the upcoming games.
“They’re a fast group, they’re physical,” Theodore said Wednesday night. “They finish all their checks and I think that’s something we have to be a little bit more aware of. We have to use our speed and we have to turn over less pucks, definitely.”
Marc Andre-Fleury, who has given up seven goals on 54 shots (.885 sv%) met with the media following the teams practice on Friday.
🎥 Fleury: We know the way we can play, the way we want to play. We’ve shown it. We know as a group what to do… just gotta execute it. pic.twitter.com/gvsDOtSi9O
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) June 1, 2018
The Knights are outshooting the Capitals 73-54 and have outscored the Capitals 8-7 through the first two games of the series. The Knights are winning the battle at the faceoff dot, winning 71-58 (55-45%) after two games.
The Capitals have been the benefactors of just three power plays in the first two games of the series. The Knights have had six. Both teams have a 33% power play success rate.
The shot location heat map represents shot locations accumulated for the first two games. The maps are fairly similar, with the Caps showing a bit more presence at net-front and in the slot. Vegas shows heat spot at the right point, while the Capitals show a similar outside spot at the left point. (Graphic from Natural Stat Trick).
GAME 2 HIGHLIGHTS
By Jon Sorensen