Capitals hold on to Game 2 win without Kuznetsov

Updated: May 31, 2018 at 9:40 am by Brock Seguin

On Wednesday, the Washington Capitals won their first ever Stanley Cup Finals game, but it didn’t come without drama. 

You can basically expect the Vegas Golden Knights to score the first goal of the game right now, and they did so for the 13th time in 17 games in Game 2. James Neal potted his fifth of the postseason and it came in impressive fashion. 

About seven minutes after Neal gave the Golden Knights the lead, Brayden McNabb crunched Evgeny Kuznetsov in the neutral zone. Kuznetsov was slow to get up, grabbing for his left-wrist as he went down the tunnel. The Capitals’ No.1 centre did not return. 

The Capitals would go on to score the next three goals, including Alex Ovechkin’s first of the series and Brooks Orpik’s first since February 26th, 2016—snapping a 220-game goalless drought. 

Shea Theodore continued his great start to the Stanley Cup Finals, cutting the Capitals’ lead to one late in the second period. 

Despite outshooting Washington 15-6 in the third period, the Golden Knights were unable to push another puck by Braden Holtby. The Capitals’ netminder stopped 37 of 39 shots, including an absolutely larcenous stick save on Alex Tuch to preserve the win. 

The Capitals were swept by the Detroit Red Wings in their first trip to the Finals in 1997-98, but that won’t happen this time. 

Capitals’ head coach Barry Trotz didn’t like the hit on Kuznetsov but also did not have an update on him. “The player didn’t return,” was all Trotz would divulge on the status of his star centre. The team will likely stay tight lipped on Kuznetsov’s status as we approach Game 3 in Washington, D.C. 

Braden Holtby, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Vegas Golden Knights, Washington Capitals