1st Star: Lars Eller, Washington Capitals
Lars Eller sure has a way of making the Capitals feel better about injuries to star centers, doesn’t he? The versatile pivot looked like an understudy who should instead be a marquee star in Game 2 of the 2018 Stanley Cup Final, collecting a goal and two assists (both of which were primary helpers).
Eller was also one of few Capitals who enjoyed a good night in the faceoff circle (going 10-6) and delivered six hits for good measure. If Evgeny Kuznetsov misses more time after missing most of Game 2, that’s bad news, yet Eller soothes Washington’s concerns about as well as you could hope.
He also barely edges a goalie who would have been the top star in most instances …
2nd Star: Braden Holtby, Capitals
Holtby made 37 saves in Game 2, many of them under intense pressure. One will live on: with two minutes remaining in regulation, Holtby sprawled for a desperation save on Alex Tuch, which earned its own post on PHT. Spoiler alert: it’s also the highlight of the night, because of course it is.
Holtby was a huge part of the Capitals surviving Vegas’ long 5-on-3 opportunity in the third; the Capitals workhorse made 10 total saves in penalty kill situations during Game 2.
3rd Star: Brooks Orpik, Capitals
You could make an argument for Andre Burakovsky, who piled up two assists (secondary or not) in Game 2. It was also tempting to give the third star to the Capitals’ penalty kill unit as a whole, as they really didn’t give Vegas many good looks during that crucial 5-on-3, which lasted more than one minute. That specific kill situation wasn’t solely about Holtby’s brilliance.
Orpik is a worthy pick, and also a fun one because it’s tough to imagine him being in this spot again (see the factoid of the night). Along with scoring the game-winning goal, Orpik delivered six hits, blocked two shots, hammered three shots on goal, generated a +1 rating, and spent 3:59 on the penalty kill in Game 2.
Highlight of the Night
Factoid of the Night
Orpik’s timely goal.
Bonus tidbit: this was just the second home playoff loss of the Golden Knights’ inaugural postseason run. Yeah.
• NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub