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After Game 3, Vegas needs a major gut check

The Vegas Golden Knights have to change something as the Capitals close in on the Stanley Cup

2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Three Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

If you watched the NHL game last night, you were left with a disturbing and foreign thought: the Washington Capitals are closing in on winning the Stanley Cup. Winners 3-1 last night and never really in any danger, the Caps are two wins away from doing what seemed impossible and becoming champions for the first time in their history.

Vegas this series hasn’t been looking like the team that steamrolled through the West with a 12-3 playoff record. They’ve looked human, average and beatable. On the other bench, Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov are looking a lot like Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang in 2016- just willing their team to victories with incredible SCF performances.

Marc-Andre Fleury has been a sub-.900 save % goalie in the three SCF games, and he’s lost 2 of them. After coming into the series with an unreal .947%, he’s falling back to earth. It’s not really his fault though, as his team is playing fairly poorly in front of him, and as a double dagger also failing to score enough on Braden Holtby in the last two games. A team just can’t be expected to win when they score 1 goal like last night.

Fleury is doing all he can, including this great save in the first period last night on Ovechkin.

Well done by Fleury, but Vegas’ talking point was limiting odd-man rushes. This was one of many more odd-man rushes that they gave up last night. Fleury couldn’t stop Kuznetsov’s shot on one of them in the 2nd period and that ended up standing as the GWG.

Ovechkin has 14 playoff goals, 1 shy of Crosby’s salary cup era playoff record of 15 goals in the 2008-09 playoffs. Malkin’s points record of 36 (also in 2009) seems safe, with Kuznetsov (27) fairly far behind.

The Caps don’t look like they’re going to let this opportunity pass without winning. They’re getting solid goaltending, playing dogged and cohesive defensive and their big guns are firing consistently. It’s a winning formula that’s come together, against all odds.

Vegas doesn’t have much time to find answers, but they better do so in Game 4 if they want to make this a long series. Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault hit posts lasts night, perhaps they aren’t all that far from breaking through again, however they just look a bit out-classed right now. The Golden Knights have defied all logic and expectations of their own as an expansion team but the next game will be a defining moment for them for their season.