Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant for months talked about his team’s hard work Barry Sanders Jersey
, ability to battle and their devotion to playing a full ”200 feet of hockey.”
In pockets of Game 2 in the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday night, the Golden Knights were surprisingly outworked, outbattled and outhustled in losing 3-2 to the Washington Capitals. Game 3 is Saturday night in Washington and Vegas is going to need to up the energy level even further in a frantic series with scoring chances galore.
Vegas outshot the Capitals 39-26, but the hustle stats in Game 2 went to Washington, which handed the expansion club just its second home loss of the postseason. Washington had 18 blocked shots to eight for Vegas, helping goaltender Braden Holtby turn things around. He allowed five goals in the opener but was sublime in Game 2 as he made 37 saves – none bigger than stopping Alex Tuch with the paddle of his stick in a sprawling move with just 1:59 left.
Washington also showed its mettle on the penalty kill, limiting the Golden Knights to a single goal in four attempts – including a 5-on-3 on the third period.
”You’ve got to try and capitalize on those,” Vegas defenseman Luca Sbisa said. ”It’s just one of those games, even at the end, with Tuchy having that chance. Most of times it goes in. It’s just one of those games.”
And while Washington outhit the Golden Knights, 46-39, it was some of Vegas’ bigger hits that ignited the Capitals in the second period.
Vegas defenseman Brayden McNabb hammered Washington’s first-line forward Evgeny Kuznetsov, sending him to the dressing room with a little more than five minutes left in the first period. He didn’t return.
Washington coach Barry Trotz didn’t provide an update on his star afterward, but said it was the key moment in the game for his team.
”It galvanized us as a group, I think it might be a turning point for us,” Trotz said.
With Kuznetsov out, Trotz added Nicklas Backstrom to his top line with Alex Ovechkin and Tom Wilson. And 5:38 into the second period Youth Calvin Ridley Jersey
, with the game tied at 1-all and the Capitals on a power play, Ovechkin scored his first career Stanley Cup Final goal to give the Capitals the lead.
”I think they got energy from that, I think they were pissed off, that’s how sports go,” Vegas forward Erik Haula said. ”You see one of your best players go down and you’re pissed off, that’s part of it. It’s no excuse for us. Bottom line is we were right in that game I think, it was right there for us to grab, we just came short.”
Vegas unraveled and gave up more uncharacteristic chances in front of Marc-Andre Fleury, who has yet to lose consecutive games this postseason. The Golden Knights also had 12 turnovers compared to Washington’s four.
”We shot ourselves in the foot a few times with some turnovers,” Golden Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt said. ”At the end of the day you really have got to see where your game is at. If you look at it as a whole, we played really well for parts of the first period and we got caught up in the transition game in the second period – and that’s not the game we want to play.”
Instead, Washington fed off the momentum and dictated the tempo, and a little less than four minutes after Ovechkin scored, Brooks Orpik broke a 220-game goal drought with the eventual game winner. It was his first goal since Feb. 26, 2016.
”I haven’t yelled that loud for someone to score a goal since Ovi scored one of his milestones,” Washington forward T.J. Oshie said.
Though the Golden Knights outshot Washington 15-6 in the third period, the Capitals skated faster Youth Rick Leonard Jersey
, competed better, worked harder and played smarter to steal home-ice advantage with their first-ever Final win. The Capitals return to Capital One Arena, where they have just a 4-5 record in the postseason. Vegas is 6-2 on the road in the playoffs.
More Stanley Cup coverage: — The Vikings-Broncos exhibition Saturday night features more intrigue than the typical preseason opener.
Denver QB Case Keenum gets to face his former teammates whom he helped reach the NFC championship before management dumped him in favor of Kirk Cousins , the jewel of this winter’s free agent class.
Keenum said Wednesday he’s eager to face the Vikings.
“Definitely. I mean, I got a firsthand view of how good a defense it is, so I know we’ve got our work cut out for us. It’s going to be a great test. I’m excited to go compete against a really, really talented defense,” Keenum said.
Keenum insisted he holds no grudges , either.
“No, man. I love all those guys,” he said. “This Saturday it’s going to be a competition and we’re going to get after it. I know those guys are going to be jacked to get back on the field just like I’m jacked to get back on the field. But, no. No bad feelings.”
Keenum went 12-4 for the Vikings last season after injuries to Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater, but Minnesota moved on in the offseason, winning the Cousins sweepstakes with, among other things, a strong roster, a sparkling new stadium and a fully guaranteed contract for $84 million over three years.
Keenum signed a two-year Michael Frolik Jersey
, $36 million deal in Denver.
Asked what he admires about Keenum’s game after watching film of last season’s surge, Cousins said, “Any time you win 13 games and a playoff game you’re doing an outstanding job as a quarterback, but I’ve watched Case going back to his days in Houston running Coach (Gary) Kubiak’s offense, watching him in L.A. He won that job in training camp, and here, he’s just a winner.”
Cousins said Keenum does all the little things right: “There’s a lot of positives to his game.”
It’s just that the Vikings found more to like in Cousins’ repertoire.
“Case was a winner,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “He won a lot of games and moved well in the pocket. He’s a great teammate and made some outstanding plays for us.
“With Kirk, he’s been as advertised. He throws the deep ball well, very accurate, and takes charge of the offense.”
Cousins and Keenum figure to play a series or two Saturday night, then give way to their backups, and that’s where the real intrigue comes in.
Trevor Siemian won the Broncos’ starting job each of the last two summers but was traded to Minnesota after the Broncos signed Keenum.
Zimmer said Siemian’s 24 starts over the last two years and high IQ made him a perfect fit as Cousins’ backup.
Siemian said Keenum’s short stint in Minnesota is indicative of how important it is to have a capable backup ready to step in and run the offense should the starter get hurt.
“Case here, Nick Foles in Philly,” Siemian said. “Yeah, I think you’re one play away. My job is to prepare as if I’m starting and knock on wood, if I’m called upon Leighton Vander Esch Color Rush Jersey
, I’ll be ready to go.”
Siemian, however, might not even get as much work this weekend as another former Broncos QB, Kyle Sloter, who signed with the Vikings a year ago after a surprisingly strong camp in Denver.
The Broncos are still holding out hope that Paxton Lynch is a late-bloomer and not a first-round bust.
Broncos coach Vance Joseph declared Lynch and Chad Kelly would battle it out for the backup job this summer, yet Lynch has worked exclusively with the second-teamers while Kelly has worked with the third-stringers so far.
Kelly, however, has consistently outshined Lynch and was clearly the superior quarterback in a recent scrimmage.
Lynch figures to get the bulk of the snaps Saturday night for Denver, and his performance could go a long way in determining if the Broncos need to consider signing a veteran backup for Keenum.
Notes: DE Clinton McDonald was getting his troublesome shoulder checked out again Wednesday. … Joseph said TE Jeff Heuerman, who has missed all but one day of camp with a sore left knee, doesn’t necessarily have to rush back to make the roster. “It’s early,” Joseph said. “I wouldn’t say that right now. That’s extreme.”
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