It will be interesting to see how much of a difference certain breaks make, too; while Game 1 and 2 feature the usual one-day break between contests, that's not uniform across the remainder of the 2018 Stanley Cup Final.
After watching the Golden Knights restore their lead thanks to goals from top-liners William Karlsson and Reilly Smith, the Capitals have pulled even again as John Carlson beat Marc-Andre Fleury for his fourth goal of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The trio of Ryan Reaves, Tomas Nosek and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare were on the ice for both the game-tying and winning goals by Reaves and Nosek, respectively.
Monday marked the first game for the Capitals in the final since their only other appearance in 1998 when they were swept in four straight by the Detroit Red Wings.
Harper may not have expected the Golden Knights to reach this point, but he at least imagined the possibility that Vegas would face his adopted hometown's Capitals in the finals.
And so we welcome the Washington Capitals to the club.
All three of Vegas' third period goals came from its fourth line. Generally speaking, both teams were fairly sloppy, which contributed to the 10-goal output.
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Smith, who garnered his 15th assist of the playoffs on Karlsson's goal, then gave Vegas a 3-2 lead early in the second period when he put in a pass from behind the net by Engelland into the right side of the cage.
Fleury entered the series with the best playoff goalkeeping stats, while Braden Holtby had a shutout streak dating back to Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final.
In the end, it was an ugly play in a game that was full of them, not just from a missed-calls standpoint.
"I don't think anybody would've expected this, as an organization, as a whole, as a community", Harper told Scott Braun during an interview on NHL Network over the weekend, which ended with him saying "Go Knights Go".
But surprisingly, it was Washington that weathered the dust storm and punched back, scoring twice in a 42-second span to take a 2-1 lead on goals from Brett Connolly and Nicklas Backstrom. Just imagine if there's a Game 7. "We have more to our game". When you note how big a factor special teams has been for Washington in particular (17 power-play goals for, 16 against in 20 games; Vegas has given up and generated 10 PPG), that could offset schematic improvements.
"It was super hard because leaving, she held it in, and when we got into the vehicle, she just let it all out", said Brown.