WASHINGTON — It certainly wasn’t easy, but the Washington Capitals emerged with a win over the NHL’s top team on Tuesday.
A first period goal by Dylan Strome gave the Capitals a highly-coveted lead over the Vegas Golden Knights, but the performance of Charlie Lindgren in net allowed the Capitals to escape with a 3-0 win.
The Golden Knights’ offensive assault threw 35 shots at Lindgren by night’s end, with the 29-year-old saving each one.
Three power play opportunities came the Capitals’ way across the first two periods, but the Capitals were unable to add insurance. Outside of Strome’s goal, Vegas goalie Logan Thompson found similar success to Lindgren, finishing with 28 saves.
The Golden Knights failed to find an opportunity into the third period, even after pulling their goalie in the game’s final 90 seconds. Connor McMichael was able to add an empty net goal, which was quickly followed by a score from Beck Malenstyn — resulting in the Capitals’ third-straight win.
MCILRATH’S HIT SHIFTS MOMENTUM
The Capitals and Golden Knights appeared evenly matched to open the game, with neither side gaining an edge in anything during the first minutes of the opening period.
With a little more than five minutes left, a jolt of energy came from an unlikely source.
Defenseman Dylan McIlrath, recalled from the Hershey Bears last week amid the Capitals’ injury woes on the blue line, delivered a major hit on Vegas winger Jonas Rondbjerg, sending him to the ice and drawing a response from Keegan Kolesar.
Kolesar and McIlrath dropped the gloves, with McIlrath coming out ahead.
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Three minutes later, perhaps aided by a swing in momentum, Dylan Strome buried a shot past Vegas goalie Logan Thompson for the first lead of the game.
McIlrath ended the night with a team-low six minutes of ice time, but his impact came at a much-needed time.
LINDGREN SOFTENS CAPS’ SHORTCOMINGS
Against a team like the Golden Knights, every moment matters.
Miscues, which are often few and far between, must be capitalized upon when they arise, or else — more likely than not — the better team comes out ahead.
The Capitals narrowly eked out a one-goal win Tuesday, and absolutely could not have done so if not for the consistency of Charlie Lindgren between the pipes.
Strome’s first period goal only allowed the Capitals to take the game’s first lead because Lindgren had saved each of the Golden Knights’ 11 shots on goal to that point.
Lindgren’s success continued through the second period — where he made 12 saves — and into the third, where
Offensively, the Capitals failed to take advantage of three power play chances, including one five-minute run. Without Lindgren’s consistency, it very well could have been a much different result.
The Capitals host the Columbus Blue Jackets at Capital One Arena on Saturday, with puck drop scheduled for 7:30 p.m.