Golden Knights, Capitals meet in Stanley Cup Finals rematch
The Capitals defeated the Knights in five games last spring to win their first-ever Cup and end the expansion Knights’ Cinderella season.
It’s too early to call this year a sophomore slump, but the Knights have wobbled out of the gate 1-2. Vegas lost 4-2 to the Baffalo Sabres on Monday night in the second stop of a five-game road trip despite outshooting the Sabres 37-17.
“Too many (Grade A chances) obviously,” Knights forward Max Pacioretty told NHL.com. “You know, we limited them to a low number of shots, however, the shots that they did get were Grade A opportunities. We can’t leave our goaltender out to dry like that.”
Jonathan Marchessault had a goal and an assist for the Knights.
Vegas, which is 0 of 8 on the power play thus far, didn’t pick up its second loss until the 10th game of last season and now faces back-to-backs against the Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins.
“They’re the Stanley Cup champs,” Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant said of the Capitals. “We look at this game (Wednesday) night, it’s a big challenge for our group so we’ll get ready to play them. We know them, they know us real well, so hopefully it’ll be a good game and we’d like to come out on top.”
Washington (1-0-1) comes into the game well rested, with five days off since dropping a 7-6 overtime decision to the Pittsburgh Penguins after blanking the Boston Bruins 7-0 on opening night.
While Gallant somewhat downplayed the rematch in terms of its meaning beyond two points in the standings, new Capitals coach Todd Reirden expects an intense affair.
“Obviously, through a five-game series you develop a little bit of hatred for certain guys, so it’s always nice to get back in to that sort of rivalry that we’ve developed with them,” he said. “I think it’ll be good for our team — especially after five days — to help us get right into the game and know it’s going to be a competitive situation with a real hungry team that’s looking to knock us off.”
Reirden will have two additions to his lineup Wednesday night.
“I never had a concussion before, so I didn’t know what to expect,” Kempny said. “Some headaches, and it was something a little bit weird, but then I felt a better and better every day.”
Forward Dmitrij Jaskin, who was claimed on waivers from the St. Louis Blues just before the season began, will make his Washington debut skating on the fourth line with center Nic Dowd and Devante Smith-Pelly.
For the Knights, forward Cody Eakin, who has been out with a lower body injury, could return. He provided 11 goals and 16 assists in 80 games last season.
Capitals goalie Braden Holtby pitched a shutout opening night before surrendering seven goals against the Penguins. Holtby allowed eight goals versus the Knights in the final four games of last spring’s finals as Washington rallied from a 1-0 deficit.
Marc-Andre Fleury has a 3.93 goals-against average in two-plus games this season. He surrendered four goals per game to Washington in the Cup finals.