The Vegas Golden Knights have enjoyed a miracle season, going from an expansion franchise that nobody gave a chance to Stanley Cup favorites in the course of a few months. Now, they’ll need one more minor miracle if they expect to finish off their first campaign with a championship.
The Washington Capitals trounced the Golden Knights 6-2 in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final, grabbing a 3-1 lead in the series and putting them on the edge of winning their first title in franchise history.
Near Misses Haunt Knights
While the score was lopsided in favor of the home team, it was the Golden Knights who came out on fire in the early going. Erik Haula hit the post just over a minute into the game, but that was only the beginning of a snake-bitten first period for Vegas.
James Neal would have an open net to shoot for at the 4:31 mark in the period, only to hit the far post and fail to score. Those missed opportunities would come back to haunt the Knights, as the Capitals would go on to score three times in the first, starting with a power play goal by T.J. Oshie.
“You can’t get frustrated because you didn’t score those two goals,” Vegas forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare told reporters after the loss. “At the end of the day, first period, they created less bounces than us, but they scored more than us.”
Things only got worse in the second period, when a John Carlson power play goal extended the Capitals lead to 4-0. The Golden Knights showed life in the third period, briefly sparking hopes of a comeback after goals by James Neal and Reilly Smith cut the deficit to 4-2. But any chance of recovery ended when Michal Kempny poured in Washington’s fifth goal of the night.
A late power play goal by Brett Connolly made the final score 6-2. The usually reliable Marc Andre-Fleury gave up all six goals on just 23 shots, but Vegas coach Gerald Gallant defended his goalie after the game.
“At least five of the six goals were wide-open nets,” Gallant told reporters. “Nothing he could do on them.”
Evegeny Kuznetsov had another productive night for the Capitals, assisting on our of the team’s goals. Kuznetsov is the leading scorer in this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs with 31 points.
Can Vegas Rewrite History?
The Golden Knights now face a daunting task if they want to win the Stanley Cup. Since 1939, only one team out of 33 that have trailed 3-1 in the Final has rallied to win the series. The 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs came all the way back from a 3-0 deficit to beat the Detroit Red Wings.
Oddsmakers are having a tough time seeing Vegas as the team to break that streak. Online bookmaker Betfred has the Golden Knights as a 9/2 underdog. On the other hand, those wanting to bet on Washington can only get 1/8 odds on their wagers.
One thing that could give Golden Knights fans a little hope is the team’s dominance at home this season. Two of the final three games of the series will be at T-Mobile Arena, including Thursday’s Game 5.