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Holtby shines as Caps even series with Golden Knights

Braden Holtby had 37 saves and Lars Eller had a goal and two assists as the Washington Capitals evened their Stanley Cup Final with the expansion Vegas Golden Knights at 1-1 with a 3-2 victory in Game 2 on Wednesday night at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Alex Ovechkin and Brooks Orpik also scored goals for Washington, which won a Stanley Cup Final game for the first time in team history. The Capitals, who were swept by the Detroit Red Wings in the 1998 finals, were 0-5 after losing Monday night’s opener, 6-4.

James Neal and Shea Theodore scored goals for Las Vegas, which lost for just the fourth time in 17 playoff games. Marc-Andre Fleury had 23 saves for the Golden Knights.

Game 3 is Saturday night at Capital One Arena in Washington D.C.

Neal gave Vegas a 1-0 lead at the 7:58 mark of the opening period, chopping down a long pass from Luca Sbisa inside his own blue line and then firing a wrist shot from the dot in the left circle past Holtby’s glove side. It kept alive an impressive streak for the Golden Knights in the playoffs, scoring first in all nine home games, including six times in the first eight minutes.

But Washington, which lost leading playoff scorer Evgeny Kuznetsov to a left arm injury after a crunching mid-ice check by Brayden McNabb just three minutes earlier, tied it at 17:27 when Eller fired in a shot into a wide-open right side of net off a nice cross-ice pass by Michal Kempny.

Ovechkin scored his 13th goal of the playoffs on the power play early in the second period with Alex Tuch serving a cross-checking penalty, converting on an Eller crossing pass through the blue ice and beating Fleury on his stick side.

Orpik then made it 3-1 four minutes later with his first goal since February of 2016, snapping a 220-game drought in the process. Eller again had an assist, sliding a pass from the slot to Orpik in the right circle, where his shot ricocheted off the arm of Tuch and then to the inside of the right post.

Theodore cut it to 3-2 late in the second period with a power-play goal, firing a wrist shot from the top of the slot that went past a double screen by Tuch and William Karlsson and past Holtby’s glove hand.

Vegas had several excellent scoring chances in the third period, the best of which was a highlight-reel diving stick save by Holtby on Tuch in front of an open net with 1:59 remaining. The Golden Knights also failed to capitalize on a 5-on-3 power-play advantage for 1:09 earlier in the period, firing nine shots but getting denied by Holtby on five scoring chances.

The Capitals improved to 10-2 in the playoffs when leading after the second period.

–Field Level Media

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