Golden Knights lose 6-2; Capitals 1 win from Stanley Cup

Updated June 4, 2018 - 10:41 pm

WASHINGTON — James Neal sat on the bench during the second period and placed his stick in front of Golden Knights assistant equipment manager J.W. Aiken.

Aiken gave the blade a few rubs and then planted a kiss on the white tape, presumably to remove whatever hex afflicted Neal’s lumber.

But the impromptu exorcism only provided a temporary moment of levity on an otherwise difficult night for Neal and his teammates.

Neal’s shot off the post early in the first period proved to be a momentum-turning play Monday as the Knights suffered a 6-2 defeat against Washington in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final at Capital One Arena.

“You score that one,” Neal said, “and it’s a different game.”

The Knights lost their third straight game in the best-of-seven series, a streak that only happened three times during the regular season. The last time they lost three in a row was Feb. 26 through March 2.

And they face a daunting task in an effort to become the first NHL, Major League Baseball, NBA or NFL team to win a championship in its inaugural season – excluding the first year of a league’s existence – since the 1950 Cleveland Browns won the NFL title.

Since 1939, teams that take a 3-1 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final have won 31 consecutive series and are 32-1 (.970) all time. The only team to manage the feat was the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, who rallied from 3-0 deficit to beat Detroit.

Game 5 is at 5 p.m. Thursday at T-Mobile Arena.

“They got the breaks because they’re working hard,” Knights coach Gerard Gallant said. “And you always say when you work hard, you get those breaks. I thought it was a great stride forward for our team coming tonight and working hard. Hopefully that’s the next step for us to get some breaks in the next game for us because we played pretty hard tonight.”

After struggling the past two games against Washington’s 1-1-3 neutral-zone trap, the Knights thought they played their best game of the series Monday.

They swarmed the Capitals in the opening period but fell behind 3-0, which allowed Washington to sit back and protect the lead.

Erik Haula hit the post 1:07 into the game, but it was Neal’s chance at 4:31 that will haunt the Knights.

“You can’t get frustrated because you didn’t score those two goals,” Knights forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare said. “At the end of the day, first period, they created less bounces than us, but they scored more than us.”

With the Knights on a power play, Tomas Tatar drove to the net and fed Haula on the right wing. Haula then sent a cross-ice pass to Neal, who was alone at the left post with Washington goaltender Braden Holtby out of position.

Initially, it appeared that Holtby made a spectacular stick save similar to his stop in the final two minutes of Game 2 against Alex Tuch.

“It was a perfect play,” Neal said. “I thought (Haula) was going to shoot it, and then he held onto it, which was great. Holtby was kind of over there, and then he gave it to me and (Capitals defenseman Matt) Niskanen laid down for a second. So, I just wanted to wait a half a second and he slid out of the net and I just shot it off the post.

“Man, you want those chances. Nine times out of 10 you probably put that in the back of the net. It’s like, I had the composure to wait and then you shoot it and you’re like ‘Uh!’ And the way it hit the post and still came out, I mean, I don’t know. It’s tough. It’s not like anyone made a save. I shot it off the post on the far side.”

Neal went on to score his sixth goal of the playoffs at 5:43 of the third period, and Reilly Smith cut Washington’s lead to 4-2 before Washington tacked on two goals late from Michal Kempny and Brett Connolly.

Washington center Evgeny Kuznetsov finished with four assists. T.J. Oshie had a goal and an assist, while Nicklas Backstrom added three assists.

John Carlson scored on a power play in the second period for the Capitals, who finished 3-for-5 with the man advantage.

“When it mattered we were able to get it done,” Washington coach Barry Trotz said. “And that’s what this team has done over the course of the playoffs. Even when we’re maybe not at our best we’ve been able to get it done, and when it mattered we’ve been able to get it complete.”

The Knights executed their game plan on all fronts to open the first period, chipping pucks deep into the Washington zone and creating havoc with their forecheck. But they had nothing to show for their effort.

The Capitals made the Knights pay for their profligacy, cashing in on a power play with 10:06 left in the first period. Marc-Andre Fleury (17 saves) made the initial stop on Kuznetsov’s shot, but the rebound went to Oshie, and he flipped the puck over Fleury after kicking it onto his stick.

Tom Wilson made it 2-0 when he was left alone in the slot and buried a feed from Kuznetsov with 3:34 remaining in the first.

Devante Smith-Pelly added a backbreaking goal with 20.5 seconds left in the period when he pounced on a loose puck in front after settling a cross-ice pass from Niskanen.

“We’re in a do-or-die situation,” Neal said. “We’ve been great at home, so we’ll go home and play our best game again and find a way to win one game and then we’ll focus on coming back here.”

More Golden Knights: Follow all of our Golden Knights coverage online at and @HockeyinVegas on Twitter.

Contact David Schoen at or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

Golden Knights Videos
Golden Knights credit chemistry, strong fourth line for win over Ducks
Following their 3-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks, the Vegas Golden Knights players credited team chemistry and solid play from the fourth line as keys to their victory.
Gallant happy with team effort in win over the Ducks
Vegas Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant says he's happy with the team's effort, especially the fourth line, after the win over the Anaheim Ducks.
Alex Tuch reacts to his new contract
Vegas Golden Knights right wing Alex Tuch reacts to his new contract with the team and explains what his goals are.
Golden Edge: VGK Practice 10-18-2018
Adam Hill, David Schoen, and Ben Gotz discuss the Golden Knights practice, Deryk Engelland's status, and Tomas Hyka's path to the team
Golden Knights Talk To Media After Thursday Practice
Golden Knights talk to media in the locker room after practice on Thursday.
Gallant Talks After Practice On Thursday
Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant goes over how the lines are developing at practice.
Gerard Gallant On Win Against Sabres
Gerard Gallant talks after practice about the Golden Knights win over the Buffalo Sabres and the teams overall performance.
Cody Eakin On His Personal Improvement As A Golden Knight
Cody Eakin talks about his improvement as a Golden Knight this season and the work he put in over the summer.
Golden Edge: Knights Mood Improved After Win Against Sabres
Adam Hill, David Schoen and Ben Gotz go over how the Golden Knights are feeling after their win against the Buffalo Sabres while Alex Tuch gets a workout on the ice.
Golden Edge: Karlsson Scores First Goal; Knights Beat Sabres
Adam Hill, Ben Gotz and David Schoen go over the Golden Knights win over the Buffalo Sabres.
Golden Knights On 4-1 Win Against Buffalo
The Golden Knights react to their first win after the road trip against the Buffalo Sabres.
Golden Edge Mailbag - October 16th, 2018
Ben Gotz and Adam Hill answer your Golden Knights questions.
Golden Edge: Eakin Scores Winning Goal During Final Road Trip Game
Golden Knights beat reporter David Schoen goes over the Knights final game of the road trip against the Philadelphia Flyers
Would the NFL be accepted abroad?
Review-Journal columnist Ed Graney takes to the streets of London, England, ahead of the Oakland Raiders facing the Seattle Seahawks to find out if the NFL is accepted, if the game is understood and what its fan base is like outside of the United States.
Golden Edge: Phil Kessel Has Hat Trick in Win Over Knights
The Pittsburgh Penguins defeat the Las Vegas Golden Knights 4-2. Ben Gotz and David Schoen report from Pittsburgh.
Golden Edge: Knights Lose First Stanley Cup Rematch
The Golden Knights lose 5-2 against the Washington Capitals and fall to 1-3 on the season. David Schoen and Ben Gotz report from Washington.
Golden Edge: Mailbag — October 9, 2018
Adam Hill is joined by Ben Gotz via skype from Washington, D.C. to answer questions submitted from Golden Knights fans.
Gallant on Washington Capitals rematch
Golden Knights Coach Gerard Gallant plays down the connection between Wednesday's game against the Washington Capitals and the Stanley Cup Final results last season.
VGS themed games from AGS at G2E Global Gaming Expo
A Golden Knights-themed slot machine was on display Tuesday at the G2E Global Gaming Expo as AGS showed two products that came out of a 3-year contract with the Knights. A video roulette game featuring a Knights helmet and an enormous slot machine were on the floor along with Knights cheerleaders, the Drumbots and Chance, the Knights' mascot. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Edge: Knights Fall to Sabres 4-2
The Sabres defeat the Golden Knights 4-2 with 3 goals in the second period. Ben Gotz and David Schoen report from Buffalo.
Golden Edge: Knights Beat Wild In Shootout
Ben Gotz and David Schoen go over the Knights comeback win against the Minnesota Wild. The Knights won 2-1 in a shootout against the Minnesota Wild. (October 7, 2018)
Golden Edge: Knights Fall In Season Opener
Elaine Wilson, Adam Hill, Ben Gotz and David Schoen go over the Golden Knights 5-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in their season opener. (Videographer: Heidi Fang, Edited By: Nathan Asselin)
Golden Knights React To Season Opener Loss
Golden Knights react to their 5-2 loss against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Gold Carpet Before Golden Knights Season Opener
John Katsilometes is on the gold carpet before the Golden Knights season opener.
Golden Knights talk after practice
Marc-Andre Fleury, Max Pacioretty and Cody Eakin in the locker room on Wed. October 3, 2018.
Golden Edge: Last Practice Before Season Opener
Adam Hill and David Schoen at City National Arena during the Golden Knights' morning skate and media day before the opener Thursday against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Media Day: Gerard Gallant and George McPhee Presser
Head coach Gerard Gallant and GM George McPhee talk about Alex Tuch, Cody Eakin, Nate Schmidt, and the start of season number two for the franchise.
Golden Edge: Mailbag — October 2, 2018
Ben Gotz and Adam Hill answer questions submitted from Golden Knights fans.
Vegas Golden Knights show support at blood drive
Members of the Vegas Golden Knights NHL team showed up for a community blood drive on the first anniversary of the Las Vegas shooting, Oct. 1, 2018. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Edge: Knights Beat Kings 2-0
Adam Hill and David Schoen report from T-Mobile Arena after the Knights beat the Kings 2-0.
Golden Edge: Shea Theodore Returns to Practice
Adam Hill, Ben Gotz, and David Schoen are at the Golden Knight's practice where Shea Thedore is suited back up for the first time this season.
Golden Edge: Mailbag — September 25, 2018
Ben Gotz and Adam Hill answer questions submitted from Golden Knights fans.
Golden Edge: Knights Lose 5-3, but re-sign Shea Theodore
Bryan Salmond is in studio while Ben Gotz, Adam Hill and David Schoen report from T-Mobile Arena on the Knights preseason game vs. the Colorado Avalanche.
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
Lucas Elvenes is ranked as one of the Golden Knights' top prospects
Lucas Elvenes is ranked as one of the Golden Knights' top prospects after a breakout season in Sweden. He slid to the fifth round in the 2017 draft after being projected to be selected much higher. “I wasn’t happy about being a fifth-rounder. But it was good for me, too, because I didn’t have so much pressure when I came here," Elvenes said. Elvenes posted five goals and 16 points in 28 games while playing in the top league in Sweden. The Knights signed Elvenes to a three-year, entry-level contract in June.
Golden Knights rookie camp - Day 2
The Golden Knights held their second day of rookie camp at City Arena in Las Vegas. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
William Karlsson and the Golden Knights are headed to arbitration
Of all the salary arbitration cases in the NHL this summer, none is more compelling than the one involving William Karlsson and the Golden Knights. Karlsson is seeking $6.5 million annually in arbitration. The Knights countered with an offer of $3.5 million annually. Karlsson's arbitration hearing is scheduled for Saturday in Toronto. During the hearing, the player and team present evidence. The arbitrator then has 48 hours to render a decision, and the team decides on a one- or two-year contract. Karlsson’s agent and the Knights can continue to negotiate a new contract prior to the hearing.
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like