Game 3 Preview: Knights and Capitals Move to The Nation’s Capital

The 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Finals have officially moved to the east coast, with the series tied 1-1. Game 3 is set for puck drop some time after 8:00 pm, Saturday night at Capital One Arena

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.

Game notes for Game 3 can be found here. Game 2 recap can be found here. Game 1 recap can be found here.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

Special Teams
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.

Advanced Analytics

Total Shots
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).

Shot Location
The Knights lead in high-danger chances 18-10 after two games, but the Caps lead 6-5 in goals from the high danger area. (graphics provided by Clear Sight Analytics).


By Jon Sorensen

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About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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4 Responses to Game 3 Preview: Knights and Capitals Move to The Nation’s Capital

  1. Юрий says:

    Good news for Caps.
    Knights are tired!!!! Most likely they made a mistake similar to mistakes that sometimes allow inexperienced runners on long distances. They also no one set the task to win the Cup. From them nothing was expected. Because they were not concerned to evenly distribute their forces for the entire season and played each game because of all the forces , fun and carefree.
    And the most important thing is not only physical , and not so much physical fatigue , as mental first of all , and as a consequence of the slowdown – the reaction of hockey players , reducing the speed of decision – making by Vegas hockey players just a fraction of a second, namely the moment-the pledge is decided by all playoff. The reason the knights were unable to score 5 vs 3 is 50% fatigue. Look again the third period of the game 2-the legs of some knights slowed noticeably.
    The big break before the final played a cruel joke with Vegas. The human body sometimes does not listen to the brain. It requires rest after such enormous loads-Shh! Oh happiness !!!! The rest came from. And suddenly again play??????? Oh no! Oh no – screaming lungs and legs of knights)))))
    Therefore, I insist on the Caps in 5!!!!!!!!!!!

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