• 68°

6 of a kind: Golden Knights outlast Caps in Final opener

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Vegas Golden Knights’ incredible inaugural season isn’t slowing down in the Stanley Cup Final.

Tomas Nosek scored the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period, and the expansion Golden Knights opened an improbable Final with a thrilling 6-4 victory over the Washington Capitals on Monday night.

Marc-Andre Fleury made 24 saves in an occasionally shaky performance, but the three-time Stanley Cup winner’s new teammates carried the goalie who has so often carried them with a relentless outburst of offense.

The Eastern Conference champion Capitals hadn’t given up this many goals in 29 games since March 18, but they hadn’t seen anything like this charmed run by the upstart Knights.

“We put fun ahead of everything, and you can tell,” said Ryan Reaves, who scored the Knights’ tying goal in the third period. “Guys have are having fun and they’re smiling.”

With its sellout crowd of hometown fans at deafening volume all night, Vegas put its usual speed and relentlessness on full display while overcoming a third-period deficit to win the opener of a matchup between two franchises seeking their first Stanley Cup titles.

The Game 1 winner has won the last six Cups and 61 of 78 overall.

Braden Holtby stopped 28 shots for the Capitals, whose first Stanley Cup Final game in 20 years was a defensive nightmare. Washington still had chances to win, but never slowed the Knights.

Tom Wilson got credit for the goal that put the Caps up 4-3 early in the third period when Fleury back-heeled a loose puck into his own net, but Reaves evened it 91 seconds later for Vegas.

Nosek then put the Knights ahead after Shea Theodore kept the puck in Washington’s zone, sidestepped a defender and fired a beautiful cross-ice pass to the Czech forward, who buried a one-timer for his second goal of the playoffs.

Colin Miller, William Karlsson and Reilly Smith scored early goals before Nosek added an empty-netter for the Knights, who are three wins away from one of the most improbable championships in recent North American team sports history. Just 342 days after the Knights selected the backbone of their first roster in the expansion draft, Vegas had another party on the Strip with its remarkable collection of castoffs.

Brett Connolly, Nicklas Backstrom and John Carlson scored for Washington, but its biggest stars didn’t match the Knights’ outburst.

Captain Alex Ovechkin, who collected a career-high 22 points in the first three rounds, had one assist in his first Stanley Cup Final game. Evgeny Kuznetsov, who scored a whopping 24 points in the first three rounds, also had just one assist.

The Golden Knights’ playoff pregame shows have been a celebration of Vegas showmanship, and their first Final game started with an extravaganza including archers, a trebuchet and a spectacular light show.

And then the Knights and Caps put on a high-energy production of their own with plenty of fireworks and drama.

With none of the customary caution or high-pressure effects often shown by teams and players in their first game on the NHL’s biggest stage, Vegas and Washington jumped right into an up-tempo thriller. Vegas had outscored its opponents 10-0 in the first period at home during the playoffs, but the Caps got two goals.

Miller scored the Knights’ first goal with a big shot on a power play, ending Holtby’s scoreless streak from his back-to-back shutouts to end the conference finals at nearly 167 minutes. But Washington calmly surged ahead later in the first period with goals 42 seconds apart from Connolly and Backstrom.

Smith put the Knights back ahead early in the second period after a stellar sequence of speed and puck movement, but Carlson tied it a few minutes later after being left alone in front of Vegas’ unmanned net.

Comments

Crime

Blotter: More than $100,000 in property reported stolen from Old Beatty Ford Road site

Local

City fights invasive beetles by injecting trees with insecticide

Local

City names downtown recipients for federal Parks Service grant

China Grove

China Grove Town Council weighs 2021-22 budget priorities, supports buying body cameras

Education

Educators reflect on Teacher Appreciation Week

Education

Livingstone College wins $30,000 Home Depot grant

Education

Shoutouts

News

Shield-A-Badge With Prayer program enters 26th year, accepting volunteers to pair with officers

Education

COVID-19 infection, quarantine numbers in Rowan-Salisbury Schools reach new highs

High School

High school football: Offensive line came together for Hornets, who play for state title tonight

Local

Pro baseball: White makes pro debut and says, ‘It felt amazing to be out there’

Education

West Rowan Middle eighth grader wins investment writing contest

Local

YSUP Rowan invites agencies to participate in youth-focused training

Nation/World

US backs waiving intellectual property rules on vaccines

News

As demand drops, Cooper visits vaccine clinic to urge usage

News

NC lawmakers advance bill barring mandatory COVID-19 shots

News

N.C. bill banning Down syndrome abortions nears floor vote

Coronavirus

Rowan County sees 301st death from COVID-19

Coronavirus

N.C. lawmakers advance bill barring mandatory COVID-19 shots

Local

Rowan Public Library joins initiative to help people with digital connectivity

Local

Mocksville to dissolve police department

Crime

Blotter: May 5

Local

Salisbury’s McElroy named top city, county communications professional in state

Local

Locals condemn use of force during 2019 traffic stop of Georgia woman