Could Monday night be the final NHL game this season in Washington, D.C.? It could be if the Capitals beat the Vegas Golden Knights to take a 3-1 series lead in the Stanley Cup Finals, and the Caps are favoured to do just that.
Golden Knights vs. Capitals Stanley Cup Final Odds
The Vegas Golden Knights had been the only team in the 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs to not lose back-to-back games. That’s no longer the case as the Knights dropped Game 2 at home last Wednesday to the Capitals and then lost Game 3 in Washington, D.C., on Saturday night 3-1. It was the first Stanley Cup Final home victory in Capitals franchise history.
On the updated NHL odds series line, Washington is priced at -303 with Vegas at +225. The favoured exact series result is Caps in six at +225. That would mean the series would return to D.C., which is guaranteed with a Vegas win Monday night to even the series at 2-2.
Since the Stanley Cup Final shifted to a best-of-7 format in 1939, the winner of Game 3 when the series was tied 1-1 has hoisted the Cup 77.8 per cent of the time. However, good news for Vegas backers: the last three losers of Game 3 in the Finals when tied 1-1 have won the series, most recently the Chicago Blackhawks in 2015. They won the final three games over the Tampa Bay Lightning.
It’s not a coincidence that Washington has won both games of this series where superstar Alex Ovechkin has scored a goal. He’s -105 to score another in Monday’s NHL matchup with no at -135. He’s -240 to have a point.
Vegas Golden Knights
There’s no chance that the Golden Knights will make a change in net to start Game 4, but Marc-Andre Fleury hasn’t been quite as sharp in this series in allowing 10 goals. He was the Conn Smythe Trophy favourite entering it. Fleury has lost back-to-back games for the first time since March 14 vs. the Devils and March 16 vs. the Wild. Vegas coach Gerard Gallant has mentioned some lineup changes are possible for Game 4, though. Perhaps he needs to shake up the second line of David Perron, James Neal and Erik Haula. That trio was a combined minus-9 in the Game 3 loss. In addition, star Jonathan Marchessault has now gone consecutive games without a point for the first time since the last game of the regular season and the postseason opener vs. the Kings. He’s -195 to score a point in Game 4.
It wasn’t a sure thing that Caps No. 1 centre Evgeny Kuznetsov was going to play in Game 3 after leaving Game 2 with an upper-body injury, but he was in there and had a goal and assist. He leads all players in this postseason with 27 points. Ovechkin is second with 25 and tied for first with 14 goals (tied for franchise record). In Game 3, he became the 34th player in NHL history and fourth active — Penguins’ Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, and Leafs’ Patrick Marleau — with 60 career playoff goals. Since 1997, just one player has scored more than 14 goals in a single postseason: Crosby with 15 in 2009. Washington is now 5-5 at home in these playoffs.