After winning Game 4 on Monday night, the Washington Capitals are now just one victory away from hoisting the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history. The home team Capitals jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period and snagged a 4-0 lead off a power-play goal from John Carlson less than five minutes remaining in the second frame to seal the deal.
The Vegas Golden Knights saw two key chances hit the post early, which could have changed the tide, but the quick-strike goal never came, and the Capitals were eventually able to sit on their big lead in the third period.
The Golden Knights will have a hard time forgetting their missed opportunities—especially the ones they had prior to T.J. Oshie's goal nearly halfway through the first period, which gave Washington the all-important 1-0 lead. While Vegas did a better job of getting the puck to high-danger areas in Game 4 than it did in Game 3, many of the subsequent shots failed to hit the net.
The Capitals continued to block shots by the boatload (they were credited with 24 in Game 4), and Braden Holtby was up to the task whenever pucks actually made it to him.
We have a potential closeout game on Thursday night in Las Vegas, and you're not going to want to miss it.
Stanley Cup Final Game 5 Schedule
When: Thursday, June 7, at 8 p.m. ET
Television: NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS
Stream: Hulu, NBC Sports Live, NBC Sports App
Updated Odds for Game 5
Odds appear courtesy of OddsShark and are accurate as of midnight ET on June 5.
Game 4 Stats to Know
That's how many consecutive games Marc-Andre Fleury's all-situation save percentage has dipped below .900. All goals aren't the fault of the netminder, but the Flower has to be Vegas' best player if the team wants to win. So far in the Stanley Cup Final, he simply hasn't been.
Fleury hadn't lost three consecutive games all season long, and the last time he played four straight games with a .900 or worse save percentage was during the second round of the playoffs in 2014. The Pittsburgh Penguins lost that series, and not surprisingly, the Golden Knights are on the verge of letting this one slip away as well.
All the goals that the Capitals scored weren't the fault of Fleury—Oshie's goal and Devante Smith-Pelly's backbreaker with less than a minute to go in the first period were off odd bounces—but this has been an uncharacteristic run for the netminder.
And it couldn't have come at a worse time.
That's how many more five-on-five scoring chances the Golden Knights had than the Capitals, according to Natural Stat Trick. The final even-strength tally was 23 scoring chances for Vegas and 14 for Washington, and it shows just how many opportunities the visiting squad had to sneak back into Game 4.
It's tough to climb out of a 3-0 hole, but it's far from impossible. The Golden Knights controlled much of the play early, and if they'd managed to score first, then we could be looking at a best-of-three series as we head back to Nevada.
Things didn't shake out that way. A quick burst of three goals from the Capitals in the back half of the first period more or less put this one out of reach, and the Vegas roster has a long flight back home to think about what might have been.
All told, the Golden Knights had 62.2 percent of the scoring chances for and still lost Game 4 by four goals. Yikes.
As in two-way deal, which is the kind of contract Smith-Pelly signed with the Capitals this past offseason. There was some doubt about his ability to make the team out of training camp, yet here he is now, scoring dagger goals in the Stanley Cup Final.
Scrambling to replace the offensive contributions of Justin Williams and Marcus Johansson, both of whom scored 20-plus goals in 2016-17, Washington appeared to be scraping the bottom of the barrel while trying to add talent. Smith-Pelly was one of the forwards who landed a contract a few days into free agency.
Despite the lack of faith that this kind of deal generally means to a veteran (and a head coach who "wasn't a big fan" of him at first), Smith-Pelly skated in 75 regular-season contests for Washington and carved out a role for himself on the bottom six. The signing now looks like a masterstroke for general manager Brian MacLellan, who was taking a chance on the forward when he inked him.
After all, the Capitals are Smith-Pelly's fourth team in seven seasons. He's scored in back-to-back games for Washington, though, and both markers have been big ones. Smith-Pelly's goal in Game 3 snuffed out any hopes Vegas had of a comeback, and his marker in Game 4 gave the Capitals the 3-0 lead at the very end of the first period.
He now has six goals in the playoffs, which is just one shy of how many he produced during the regular season.