Coming off of a dominant performance in a 3-1 Game 3 win over the Vegas Golden Knights at Capital One Arena on Saturday night, the Capitals will look to take a commanding 3-1 series lead in the 2018 Stanley Cup Finals on Monday night in the second game at Capital One Arena.
The Capitals will then head back to Las Vegas for what could potentially be a decisive Game 5 (depending on whether they come out of Game 4 with a victory) on Wednesday night at 8:00 PM.
By winning their first home game of the series on Saturday night, the Capitals brought their overall home playoff record to 5-5, and now have a chance to come out of Games 3 & 4 with a winning record at home. In their 43-year history, the Capitals have an all-time record of 130-143 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and are just two wins away from winning the franchise’s first ever Stanley Cup. The last Game 4 played at Capital One Arena (then the MCI Center) was on June 16, 1998, a game in which the Caps lost decisively 4-1 to the Detroit Red Wings; a win that ultimately earned Detroit its second consecutive championship.
After leaving Game 2 early due to a hit from Golden Knights defenseman Brayden McNabb, Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov returned to action in Game 3 and hardly missed a beat, scoring one goal and adding an assist for two points in 18:52 of ice time. Captain Alex Ovechkin and fellow forward Devante Smith-Pelly also added goals of their own to help the team secure the aforementioned 3-1 win. Ovechkin scored a goal and finished with five shots on net in 17:28 of ice time. Aside from giving up a goal on a turnover, goaltender Braden Holtby stopped 21 of 22 shots faced for a save percentage of .955. Through the first three games of the series, Holtby has a 2-1 record, with a save percentage of .915 (86 saves on 94 shots), and overall, has a 2.13 goals-against average in the 2018 playoffs. The Capitals head into Game 4 leading the Golden Knights in faceoffs won, winning 97 of 191 total draws (50.8%) after falling behind through the first two contests.
VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS
After their theatrical pre-game festivities at home, and energized play in front of their home crowd, the Golden Knights were heavily outplayed in Game 3 in their first visit to D.C. since February 4. The Golden Knights now own a still-impressive 8-3 road record. Vegas netminder Marc-Andre Fleury played on his head through the first two games of the series, but seemed to fall back to earth a bit in Game 3. Through the first three games of the series, Fleury has a 1-2 record, .875 save percentage (70 saves on 80 shots), and has a 1.95 goals-against average in the 2018 playoffs. After leading the Caps in faceoffs won through the first two games, Vegas now heads into Game 4 having won just 94 of 191 total draws (49.2%). The Golden Knights also leads the Capitals in total shots, 95-80.
The Capitals have scored on just one of their seven power plays (14.3%) in the series thus far, while the Golden Knights have scored on two of their eight power plays (25%) in the series.
The shot location heat map represents shot locations accumulated for the first three games. The maps are fairly similar, with the Caps showing 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 3 Highlights:
By Michael Fleetwood