The Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Washington Capitals 6: 4 in a gripping match 1 of the Stanley Cup final 2018. The result – and the road to it – produced a quartet of questions we posed to our panel before Game 2
Alex Ovechkin said nerves flowed into the Game 1 result. Buy it?
Greg Wyshynski, senior NHL author: Depends who you ask. Ovechkin was probably honest when he said that nerves are a factor because he has four wins to finally finish the dumbest criticism of his Hall of Fame caliber career. But ask teammate Jay Beagle, and I'll tell you that the nerves were calmer after the first shifts. From there, the caps were simply overdone.
Emily Kaplan, National NHL Reporter: Hey, the Captain knows his team a lot better than me. Still, I find it hard to believe in a team that lost 2-0 in the first round, threw their arch rivals out of the race on the second lap, and then stopped twice in the away game.
Chris Peters, hockey Prospects Writer: I buy it. The Capitals were so defensive in the last two games of the Eastern Conference final game and so much sharper in their games than the somewhat disjointed, loose efforts they put together in Game 1
Ben Arledge, Insider NHL Editor: I buy that it played a part. Vegas looked much more organized during the game than the caps, especially in the early stages. As explained by Chris, the defense of Washington was out of order, but the capitals scored four goals against a team that averaged less than two per game. Vegas has just won a close game. I do not pay attention to what Ovechkin said, and I'm sure nerves were a component; but really, Washington has just lost a close.
What Capitals players need to line up to shoot the series?
Wyshynski: Evgeny Kuznetsov had a total of one assist, three shots and five shots Game 1 shows lightning from this incredible offensive spark that has made him the top scorer in the capital. But since the Knights seem content to play strength against strength in these top lines, Washington needs much more possession from their top flight, and that starts with Kuzy.
After a few penalties, many points and a few dashes each of chaos and chaos, the NHL can only hope the rest of the series is entertaining.
Vegas's fourth line was electrifying, the refs largely swallowed their whistles and the foreplay show did not disappoint. What will transfer to Game 2?
Kaplan: Game 1 was a strange game for John Carlson. He produced offensively (a sweet goal, a crossbar hit), but was most often remembered as the victim of an unnamed counter-attack by Ryan Reaves. Washington's top defender was also pulled off the net shortly after William Karlsson's goal in the first half and had very little to report in the first half of Tomas Nosek. Conclusion: Carlson was spectacular in these playoffs, but has to return to this form for caps to get a chance.
Peters: I do not think Braden Holtby tasted the Capitals Game 1 at all, but he was not quite as keen as you'd expect him to pull out of the duels to get the caps into the final to send. The team in front of him did not help him enough, but when Holtby plays, he can win games himself. I expect a significant return from him.
Arledge: The offensive was not really the problem, but only two shots and an assist for Ovechkin in the opener was not what we expected to come from. He definitely did not have a bad game – that's not the point. It's more like the team is going through him and he's the type of player who can take on a game. Game 2 would be a good start. I like it when Ovi scores at least once on Wednesday night, and I would not be shocked if he scored an early goal.
Has one of the goalkeepers been worried after nine goals? Game 1?
Wyshynski: It's less worrying than a lingering one I had over Marc-Andre Fleury this season that his safe percentage is advancing into the final – which was the best in the NHL history for goalies with at least 15 Playing in a postseason – would come back to Earth, and for all his previous successes against the capitals, his numbers were never overwhelming against them. Nothing in Game 1 made me shake those ideas.
Kaplan: I am here with Kuznetsov on the way. On Tuesday, the Caps Center said, "I do not think the Goalies [made too many] made mistakes last night, you know?" No goalkeeper was terrific, but nobody – especially Holtby – got much help. Most Golden Knights goals were scored up close and signaled bloated coverage.
Peters: Although I was just answering Holtby's previous question, I thought Fleury looked a little more human in Game 1. The way he responded to earlier difficult assignments in these playoffs does not get a point of great concern. However, if I'm the capitals, putting four goals in Vegas against Fleury as well as he puts this postseason is a confidence booster despite the result. They know that they can get pucks behind Conn Smythe's darling, they just have to get better to prevent them from coming to an end.
Arledge: Nee. No goalkeeper played badly; I did not feel that one of those goals was weak. It's basically impossible to take care of Fleury, and Holtby just needs a little more support.
We raise the non-return policy: Has the outcome or specific events of Game 1 changed your mindset who will win the series?
Wyshynski: I've selected the capitals in six and my choice remains the capitals in six, if only because we've already seen this movie during the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, as Washington two against Columbus lost. As they like to say, they never make it easy.
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Conference Final Results:
• TB-WSH | • WPG-VGS
Semi-final conference results:
• TB-BOS | • WSH-PIT
• NSH-WPG | • VGS-SJ
Round 1 Results:
• TB-NJ | • BOS-TOR
• WSH-CBJ | • PIT-PHI
• NSH-COL | • WPG-MIN
• VGS-LA | • ANA-SJ
Chaplain: I selected the Golden Knights in seven, so my prediction is still good. However, if the Capitals do not clean up their defensive play – especially if it allows Vegas to get high-quality, undisputed chances right before Holtby – that series could be shorter than that.  Peters: I still have the capitals in six games, but I never thought Vegas would win the opener for a second in Game 1. The way they have steadily increased from the emotional opening to the franchise's first playoff game to the big moments of their season seems to be in the DNA of this team when attention is most intense
Arledge : I selected the Golden Knights in seven. Vegas would not give up game 1 at home. I have the feeling that Washington is retreating to the series on Wednesday night, but I'm not faltering from anything based on a game-1 shootout, especially considering it was a Knights win.