The countdown

The countdown

Postautor: hongwei28 » 6 wrz 2018, o 07:32

Alex Tuch collected the skittering puck with absolutely nothing between him and the tying goal with two minutes left in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Braden Holtby reacted with pure instinct.

Washington’s goalie stretched back and lunged to his right with his stick Stephen Hauschka Jersey , thrusting the paddle into the exact 4-inch slot of air through which Tuch’s shot was headed for the net.

”Luckily it hit me,” Holtby said with a shrug.

The Washington goalie’s coaches and teammates weren’t quite so calm about a save that will go down in Capitals history as the key to a 3-2 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday night, evening the series at one game apiece.

The win was the Caps’ first-ever Stanley Cup Final victory – and the save might be a catalyst to even bigger things.

”To me, it was the hockey gods,” Washington coach Barry Trotz said. ”They evened it up from the last game. Great save. You could see the emotion on our bench. Once he made that save, I knew we were going to win the game.”

Holtby made 37 saves, but he got help from earthly sources as well. Alex Ovechkin scored a power-play goal, his first in a Final, Brooks Orpik ended a personal 220-game goal drought with the eventual winner, and Lars Eller added a goal and two assists.

”We refocus and pick each other up and that’s a sign of a good team,” Holtby said. ”That’s one of our strengths.”

Game 3 is Saturday night in Washington. The Caps are just 4-5 at home in the postseason, but they’ll ride a wave of momentum after going into the Golden Knights’ daunting home arena and taking away home-ice advantage in Washington’s first Stanley Cup Final in 20 years.

After getting battered in the Knights’ 6-4 series-opening win Antonio Morrison Jersey , Holtby made several big saves throughout Game 2, coming up particularly big while Washington killed a 5-on-3 disadvantage for 1:09 earlier in the third period. He capped his energetic performance with that jaw-dropping stick save on Tuch with 1:59 to play.

”Holts just makes the save of the year,” Washington forward Jay Beagle said. ”Maybe the save of a lifetime. It’s unreal.”

The T-Mobile Arena crowd was stunned, but after several months of watching this expansion team push through every obstacle, the Knights couldn’t get around Holtby’s stick.

”Thank God he’s our goalie,” Ovechkin said. ”He’s over there when we need him, and it was probably the save of the year for sure.”

Washington overcame another big blow when it lost leading scorer Evgeny Kuznetsov to an upper-body injury in the first period after a big hit from Vegas defenseman Brayden McNabb, but the Caps avoided any hotheaded retaliation and concentrated on a gritty effort that was enough to even the series.

James Neal and Shea Theodore scored and Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 23 shots for the upstart Knights, who couldn’t summon their usual clutch magic, even with lengthy man advantages. Thanks to Holtby’s 15 saves, Vegas finally went scoreless in the third for the first time in six periods in this series.

Washington handed the Golden Knights only their second home defeat – the first in regulation – in Vegas’ nine postseason games.

”I think it’s really important that we take a step back and take a deep breath and know that you’re not going to win this series in two games,” Vegas defenseman Nate Schmidt said. ”We’re a special group. We can go out and win games on the road. We’ve done it all playoffs.”

So have the Capitals Jeremy Vujnovich Jersey , who improved to 9-3 on the road after two games in this frequently chaotic series.

The Caps have made the playoffs in 13 of 19 seasons since their only other trip to the Final in 1998, but hadn’t managed to get their fans back to the final round until this year. Capital One Arena in downtown Washington was packed with red-clad fans watching Game 2 on the videoboards.

The temperature on the Las Vegas Strip spiked to triple digits in the hours before Game 2, likely making it the hottest Final game in NHL history. But the heat didn’t fry the spirits of the fans who filled the plaza next to the arena to capacity before the puck dropped, continuing this gambling mecca’s fanatical support of its first major pro sports team.

Shortly after Neal opened the scoring for Vegas in Game 2, Kuznetsov went straight to the dressing room after absorbing a high check from McNabb. The game immediately took on a nastier tone, and the teams played 4-on-4 hockey moments later after a prolonged scrum led to two penalties.

Trotz gave no postgame update on Kuznetsov’s condition.

”(That hit) galvanized us as a group,” Trotz said. ”This group has learned so much. They’ve gotten so resilient. This group has had everything thrown at them, and they just say, `You know what? We’re going to push on.”’

Washington attacked and evened it shortly afterward with a goal from Eller, who had failed to hit an open net on a rushed play for a potential tying goal late in Game 1.

Washington’s excellent power play finally got a chance early in the second period, and Ovechkin scored a vintage goal with his powerful shot from a sharp angle. The Russian superstar led the NHL with 49 goals in the regular season and added 12 more in the Eastern Conference playoffs before scoring the first Stanley Cup Final goal of his 13-year, 1 Bernie Kosar Jersey ,121-game NHL career.

The Caps then got a thoroughly unlikely contribution from Orpik, whose deflected shot bounced fortuitously off the ice and beat Fleury. The gr As much as he tries to downplay the significance, Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden is fully aware Friday's exhibition game against the Detroit Lions will be anything but an ordinary preseason contest.

It's been 17 years since Gruden last roamed the sidelines at the Coliseum with the Raiders. He came back in 2004 with Tampa Bay and again in 2012 as a television analyst.

Gruden's iconic status among Raiders fans promises to make this time different. Much, much different.

"I am looking forward to it," Gruden said Wednesday after the second of two joint practices with the Lions. "I'm looking forward to it big-time. I've got some things obviously I've got to work out. So I've got to work myself through calling plays again and managing some tough situations. I'm anxious to see if I can do it."

Gruden developed a cult-like following during his first stint as the Raiders coach from 1998-2001. Those feelings didn't wane when Gruden was traded to Tampa Bay by late owner Al Davis and only strengthened when the coach went into the television booth.

Gruden showed his appreciation in 2009 while in town to broadcast a San Francisco 49ers game when he held a party at Ricky's, a Raiders sports bar not far from the Coliseum.

Gruden held another party at Ricky's three weeks ago to celebrate his return and paid for dinner and soft drinks for the fans. About 600 people showed up.

"It's an honor to be here and it's a great story, but I also just want to do everything I can in order to try and help this team win again," Gruden said. "I love the Raider fans. I love Oakland and that's the primary reason I'm standing here."

Lions coach Matt Patricia developed a friendship with Gruden while he was defensive coordinator in New England and the Raiders coach was working at ESPN.

Gruden's return, Patricia said, is good for the NFL.

"If you meet with him, you're gonna find a guy that absolutely loves football from its core, all the way out Kony Ealy Jersey , every aspect of it," Patricia said. "He loves to coach and I think he loves to be around the players. I think it's great for the game. I think it's great for the Raiders organization."

The rest of the storyline around Friday's game is fairly antiseptic.

Quarterback Derek Carr and the rest of Oakland's starters will only play a series or two, with the majority of playing time being doled out to the rookies and fringe players on the roster.

"This game is not about Derek Carr, not yet," Gruden said. "It's about finding the right 53 men, and I think you saw it today, we've got a lot of contenders. There are a lot of guys that have put themselves on the brink of making this football team and we've got to make sure we give them every opportunity to showcase their skills."

Notes: Former Raiders Warren Sapp and James Jones attended practice, along with ex-Lions coach and current NFL Network analyst Steve Mariucci. . LT Donald Penn continues to rehab from offseason foot surgery and is getting closer to getting back on the field. "Our trainer is pleased with the progress that he's made," Gruden said. "Hopefully that time is soon."

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