Capitals show guts in beating Golden Knights in Game 2

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The Washington Capitals just keep battling. That’s why they made it to the 2018 Stanley Cup Final, and that resilient play helped them tie the series 1-1 by beating the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2 in Game 2.

There were plenty of moments where things could have gone sideways for the Capitals.

As the Golden Knights have frequently accomplished during this storybook run, they took the early lead when James Neal scored a nice 1-0 goal. That didn’t derail the Capitals.

Evgeny Kuznetsov was injured by a hard Brayden McNabb hit late in the first period and did not return. That didn’t sink the Capitals, either; in fact, Lars Eller made it 1-1 shortly after that injury took place.

With a perilously small 3-2 lead (an edge that shrunk thanks to a power-play goal) in the third period, the Capitals faced a lengthy 5-on-3 penalty kill situation. They didn’t buckle under that pressure.

Instead, Washington responded to a clunky start to dominate, especially during the second period, and Braden Holtby did the rest. Holtby’s sprawling save against Alex Tuch earned praise as one of the best saves of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and with good reason.

After the Capitals and Golden Knights opened the scoring with a pretty goal apiece, the tallies were pretty funky from there.

Granted, Alex Ovechkin scoring a power-play goal on a one-timer is something you can set your watch too, but it wasn’t exactly a laser beam to the top corner. Shea Theodore‘s own power-play tally might earn the designation “knuckle puck.”

But if you want an example of how unusual some of the goals were, consider the eventual game-winner by Brooks Orpik.

In case you’re wondering … yes, it’s extremely rare for the Capitals to get a goal from the hard-hitting defenseman. Like, very extremely super-rare.

Also rare: the Golden Knights losing at home, particularly during this run. The Capitals handed them just their second home loss of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

That’s impressive, but you can bet that the Golden Knights aren’t thinking about that right now. Instead, they must be kicking themselves about all of the missed opportunities, especially on that 5-on-3 power play, as this 1-1 series switches to Washington for Games 3 and 4.

Will Evgeny Kuznetsov be able to play in one or both of those games?

The Capitals can’t really say that it doesn’t matter, but give them credit for playing exceptionally well without the star center. Maybe they just wear adversity well?

MORE:
• NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.