WASHINGTON — Two days before Alex Tuch’s missed opportunity in the dying moments of Game 2, it was Lars Eller unable to convert on a chance right in front of wide open net (while taking a slash to the stick in the process).
You’ve all seen the save. A fortuitous bounce for the Vegas Golden Knights led to a glorious chance for Tuch to tie the game with two minutes to go in Game 2. A sprawling Braden Holtby denied the opportunity with his paddle.
(Be sure to check out the save now in flipbook form!)
That would be the Golden Knights’ best chance to tie as the Washington Capitals would even the series with a 3-2 win.
Capitals head coach Barry Trotz said he believes he’s watched the replay half a dozen times and is firm believer that the save was the doing of the hockey gods evening things out after Eller’s miss.
“[I]t was a huge save for us. It was one of those saves that can be a game-changer in a series,” Trotz said on Friday. [Alex Ovechkin’s] expression said it all. I had the same expression, you just couldn’t see it because it was inside.”
Inspiring on one side. Deflating on the other. A goal there would have likely forced overtime and given Vegas an opportunity to head to D.C. for Game 3 on Saturday and improve upon their 6-2 road record with a 2-0 series lead. It wasn’t to be, and now with full focus on the game ahead, the Golden Knights, and especially Tuch, have moved on.
“I’ve seen worse plays than that, honestly. It was a great save, and it’s going to happen,” Tuch said. “Whether it’s going to be me or another guy in this room, or a guy in that room. They missed a wide-open backdoor play the game before that, too, to tie it up. Stuff like that happens and you just have to forget about it and move onto the next game.”
“No, he didn’t let the team down. He’s a 22-year-old kid I really like who has had an outstanding playoffs,” said Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant.
It’s not the first time Tuch has been robbed by a goaltender this season. In early December, Anaheim Ducks netminder John Gibson made a flashy glove save to deny the Golden Knights forward of a goal. Tuch would get revenge later in the game by scoring the only goal in the shootout.
“That happens and that’s hockey,” said Tuch. “It’s a game of inches each way, and you just have to bear down a little bit and bury those opportunities.”
If the hockey gods like evening things out, as Trotz believes, Tuch will get another opportunity at some point this series to redeem himself. But he’s put ‘The Save’ in the past, and so has Holtby, who’s not one to reflect on what happened days ago, especially as the games get more important.
“It was a big point of the game. That’s probably the only thing I take away from it because it’s a strange play, weird play and one of those that you could play it the exact same and it might not go the same way,” Holtby said.
“That’s definitely behind us now. It’s not going to have any effect on the next game. We’re going to have to refocus and play an even better game.”
• NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub