Vegas Golden Knights face tall task and must win three games in a row.
In a must-win situation, the Vegas Golden Knights had to bring their best effort in game four of the Stanley Cup Final. You have to give credit where credit is due, the Washington Capitals have done a great job playing against Vegas. However, when the when the stakes are high, the Golden Knights always seem to come through.
Many people were speculating what Golden Knights Head Coach Gerard Gallant was going to do with his lineup ahead if game four. He knew he had to do something to the middle two lines due to their lack of production. In warmups we got that answered when Tomas Tatar took the place of David Perron.
Gallant moved up Alex Tuch to the second line with Erik Haula and James Neal. Meanwhile, Tatar makes his return to the lineup on the third line with Cody Eakin and Ryan Carpenter. Maxime Lagace remains the backup to Marc-Andre Fleury as Malcolm Subban is starting to make his way back on the ice.
The first period began with a lot of buzz from the Golden Knights offense. The second line provided a ton of early scoring opportunities as Tuch hit the post when he took a shot from the end boards. Holtby had no a scoring chance occurred until he heard the post ring.
The Golden Knights earned a power play when John Carlson took a tripping call almost four minutes into the first. The Golden Knights best scoring chance of the period came when Neal had the wide-open net to shoot at, but he hit the farside post. At that point, the didn’t recover in the first frame.
Colin Miller took a tripping penalty, and it went downhill from there. TJ Oshie banged home the games first goal as two defensemen were caught on one side of the ice and Tomas Nosek was late coming back into the play. The scoring barrage continued from there for Washington.
The Golden Knights entirely left Tom Wilson wide open in the slot, and Evgeny Kuznetsov makes no mistake with the cross-ice pass leading to the easy goal for the big power forward. Wilson’s fifth of the postseason gave the Capitals a 2-0 lead, and they still weren’t done.
In the final minute of the period, Matt Niskanen throws the puck on net from the point and the rebound bounces out to Devante Smith-Pelly for his sixth of the playoffs. And just like that, it’s 3-0 Caps to end the first period. Shots totals were even at 11 for each side.
The Golden Knights played very well in the first period but came up empty and down on the scoreboard. I don’t care how well they played; they need to hit empty nets, need to stop being undisciplined and stop turning the puck over. Unfortunately, the trend continued in the second period.
Vegas once again came out with a jump in their step to start the second period. They created scoring opportunities and power play chances but didn’t muster anything on the scoreboard. In fact, they hit the post twice in a matter of seconds in this period as well.
Neal took a slashing penalty, and that spelled doom for the Golden Knights. John Carlson’s laser beam from the point gave the Caps a 4-0 lead. The special teams advantage the Capitals have over the Golden Knights is by a wide margin. Somehow, Vegas remains undisciplined and makes careless errors.
The second period ended, and the Golden Knights looked like they were just out of gas. Shot totals favored Vegas heavily in the middle frame 12-5, but it didn’t matter much at all.
In the third period, the Golden Knights came out with a jolt of energy. They finally got on the board when Neal scored from in tight and got a little redemption from the first period. And Reilly Smith even answered with a backhanded beauty from in close. However, the rally was cut short thanks to a bomb by Michal Kempny and a power-play goal by Brett Connolly.
.The clock ticked to zero and the Caps finished off the Golden Knights in game four 6-2. The Capitals have taken a 3-1 stranglehold in the Stanley Cup Final. You know what that means; the Golden Knights go home in game five with their season on the line. They must rattle off three straight wins to reach their end goal.
Vegas Hockey Knight’s Three Stars
3rd Star) Braden Holtby- 28 saves on 30 shots in game four victory.
2nd Star) TJ Oshie- One goal, two assists, 10 PIM +1 rating, two shots on goal in 17:37 TOI.
1st Star) Evgeny Kuznetsov- Four assists, Two PIM, +1 rating, two shots on goal in 20:37 TOI.
All in all, just not good enough for the Vegas Golden Knights. They didn’t earn this game, and they don’t deserve this series so far. They try to change that with game five on Thursday night back at T-Mobile Arena. Catch puck drop at 5 PM PT.