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Knights prevail in sweltering Game 1 shootout

China Daily | Updated: 2018-05-30 07:20
Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (29) makes a save as Washington Capitals right wing T.J. Oshie (77) looks for the rebound in the third period in game one of the 2018 Stanley Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV, US, May 28, 2018. [Photo/Agencies]

LAS VEGAS - Bad enough that the blistering outside temperature (97 F) made the ice sluggish inside T-Mobile Arena on Monday night.

Goaltenders Marc-Andre Fleury and Braden Holtby also had to deal with a combined 64 shots in the opening game of the Stanley Cup final as the Vegas Golden Knights outlasted the Washington Capitals, 6-4.

Fleury came into the series with a 1.68 goals-against average for Vegas, with Holtby not far behind at 2.04 for the Caps.

Giving up nine goals between them seemed unlikely, but that's exactly what happened as both goalies had to deal with bouncing pucks off the sloppy surface while trying to keep up with two swarming offenses.

For Washington, scoring against the Golden Knights meant taking advantage of Vegas defenders failing to clog the slot - and Fleury making some uncharacteristic mistakes.

Brett Connolly's redirect that went through defenseman Colin Miller's legs in the first period caught Fleury overcommitting.

Less than a minute later, Nicklas Backstrom backhanded a shot past Fleury, who couldn't recover after sprawling to his right to stop a TJ Oshie wraparound tryl.

Fleury didn't stand a chance against John Carlson, who scored an easy backhander after a beautiful feed from Oshie, who snaked a beautiful pass across the slot.

And while Tom Wilson got credit for Washington's fourth goal, the puck slid into the net after Fleury kicked it in himself after getting it caught under his skate.

"Obviously it's not what was expected of both of us, or what I want," said Fleury, who improved to 13-3 in these playoffs.

"It's not going to go perfect every night. Sometimes I put the puck in my net by myself. It happens. It'll happen again at some point in my career. You just have got to brush it off, forget about it and try to stop the next one."

At the other end, Holtby made 28 saves, but Game 1 marked the second time he has allowed five goals this postseason (Vegas got its sixth goal on an empty-netter by Tomas Nosek).

Colin Miller caught Holtby leaning to his right, peeking over a defenseman's shoulder, and wired a one-timer that went under the goalie's glove for the Golden Knights' first goal.

William Karlsson was able to tie the game just before the end of the first period when he grabbed a rebound off the end boards and caught Holtby out of position, after he overcommitted on Reilly Smith's shot.

Smith also got a goal thanks to a fortunate rebound off the end boards, after Holtby failed to scoop up Deryk Engelland's wrist shot and the puck caromed off his pads.

"For me, I thought my puckhandling was not great tonight," Holtby said.

"I wasn't recognizing the type of forecheck they were having, and I made the wrong decision on a few occasion. That's just something that you go back, watch the video, see where there's faults and make adjustments."

Rebounds have continued to haunt Holtby, who fell to 12-7 in the playoffs.

Ryan Reaves scored his second goal of the postseason, in as many games, when he smacked a loose puck over the knob of Holtby's stick, just 1:31 after the Capitals had taken a 4-3 lead in the third period.

Both goalies and their defenses don't have much time to turn things around.

Game 2 is on Wednesday night.

Associated Press

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