In a thrilling game one, the 2018 Stanley Cup Finals began, featuring a match up nobody would have dreamed of eight months ago. Out of the eastern conference came the Washington Capitals, ending a drought of 20 years for the DC area since the last time a major sports team made the championship round of their league. That last team was also the Washington Capitals, in 1998, when they were swept by the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup Final. The other side of the bracket featured the Las Vegas Knights from the Western Conference. This season is the first ever played the Las Vegas Knights, an expansion team that was announced roughly two years ago at the end of the 2016 NHL season.
The Knights took first blood of the game with a shot by Colin Miller seven minutes into the first period. Later in the first period the Capitals would bounce back with back-to-back goals from Brett Connolly and Nicklas Backstrom, one of which a fast redirect and the other off a rebound. The Knights player William Karlsson would squeeze in one more shot near the end of the period to tie the game at 2-2 before intermission.
The second period featured a goal a piece for each team. Reilly Smith would strike first after following up on a rebound shot to net the Knights their third goal of the game early in the period. John Carlson and TJ Oshie would work a two man game to outplay Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and tie it up at 3-3 halfway through the period. The score would remain tied entering the final period.
The final period would feature another four goals, beginning with a missed goal from Alex Ovechkin tipped in by Wilson. Ryan Reaves would rebound a missed shot to tie the game up at 4-4 after an offensive push by the Knights. After two quick goals, Shea Theodore would make a stellar cross-ice pass to Tomas Nosek to clinch a game-changing goal, giving the Knights a 5-4 lead with 10 minutes left in the final period. Lars Eller would whiff a great shot to potentially tie the game, and Tomas Nosek would seal the game for the Knights with a second goal, for a 6-4 lead with too little time left.
Marc-Andre Fleury, the goalie for the Golden Knights, made 24 saves during the game, and, in an offensively paced game, was able to lock down the goal for the majority of the third period, coming up huge. One incident that got attention after the game was a body slam from Capitals’ Tom Wilson on Golden Knights’ Jon Marchessault, which might be reviewed for a fine. The Washington player spoke about it on Tuesday, claiming, “It’s a good hit. I don’t know why there’s so much media attention.”
Game one featured four lead changes and a win for the Las Vegas Knights, already earning their first win in the Stanley Cup Finals, a feat not yet achieved by all NHL teams and an impressive one to earn in an inaugural season. The centennial season of the NHL looks to have an exciting championship round, and although game one winners have claimed the trophy 61 out of the last 78 times, the series is far from over. Game two will take place in the T-Mobile center on Wednesday, May 31st.