We’ve got a series.
They say things don’t really start until a team wins a road game, and the Capitals wasted no time by eking out a 3-2 victory in the desert. Now the series heads east, where the Capitals will be favored, even if their hottest scorer might miss the game.
Stanley Cup Game 3 Prediction
Despite Washington stealing a road game, the series odds still favor the Knights. Vegas is -133 to raise the Cup, while the Caps are a +113 underdog according to 5Dimes.
But when it comes to Saturday’s contest, Washington is favored for the first time in this series. The Capitals are -123 on the moneyline, but a +240 underdog when giving 1.5 goals. Again, this is projected to be a tight contest.
Vegas is a slight dog at +115, and a heavy favorite getting 1.5 goals at -255.
The goal total is once again set at 5.5, with the over at +105 and the under at -105.
Did this series turn on one save? That’s what many were left wondering Wednesday night. With the score tied at two in the final minutes, Caps goalie Braden Holtby made the save of his life against Alex Tuch.
While that may have closed the door on Las Vegas for Game 2, it wasn’t the driving force that propelled Washington to victory. After the game, multiple people stated that the injury to Evgeny Kuznetsov was a unifying force for the team.
“That really galvanized us,” said Washington coach Barry Trotz. “You get an all-in mentality. I know how resilient this group has been all year. I think that might be a turning point for us.”
Kuznetsov went down with just over five minutes remaining in the first period of Game 2. He went directly to the locker room and did not return, and appeared to be holding his left arm.
Instead of folding up, the Capitals responded. They scored three goals over the next 12:14, stealing any momentum Vegas might have accrued after going up 1-0 and injuring the Caps’ leading scorer.
T.J. Oshie agreed that the absence could lead to offense from other areas:
“It’ll be a big loss, but as you saw in the Pittsburgh series when Nick went down, sometimes that kind of energizes some other guys to get in there and be able to make some plays.”
Despite the narrow loss, the Golden Knights were not without chances. They had 17 scoring chances on 69 shot attempts, but were unable to capitalize on some of their biggest opportunities. That includes the point-blank stuff from Holtby, but also includes a 5-on-3 situation in the third period that Vegas let slip through their fingers.
The biggest concern in Game 3 is Marc-Andre Fleury. He’s been shaky in this series, facing a Capitals team that is well-versed in the mannerisms of the former Penguin. Fleury needs to bounce back in Game 3, and avoid losing his first road start since May 12 in the opening game of the Western Conference finals against Winnipeg.
Stanley Cup Game 3 Best Bets
Leaving the heat of the desert should help stop those crazy bouncing pucks that have affected the first two games. Vegas is no stranger to winning on the road, and they should have an edge without Kuznetsov. But if the Knights keep losing on special teams, eventually it will be their downfall against an experienced team like Washington.
Pick: Vegas, under 5.5 goals