The Capitals knew exactly how to stop Vegas' 5-on-3

Chris Lingebach
May 31, 2018 - 1:02 pm

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Capitals were able to stave off every Golden Knights attempt at evening the score late in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, holding Vegas scoreless for the duration of the third period, to even the series at 1-1 Wednesday evening.

Braden Holtby withstood the entirety of Vegas' offensive onslaught, including its most formidable assault, a 5-on-3 advantage four minutes into the third.

At 16:47, officials sent Tom Wilson to the penalty box for interference. Fifty-two seconds into the two-minute penalty, Lars Eller was called for hooking, creating a potentially catastrophic 5-on-3 power play scenario. The odds of a team scoring on a 5-on-3 go up dramatically. But Holtby and the Capitals, against all odds, killed it off, preserving their 3-2 lead for a total of two minutes and 52 seconds of power-play time. A stunning display of fortitude.

Fans can thank the Caps' scouting department for devising the perfect penalty kill strategy to thwart the 5-on-3, Alan May informed The Sports Junkies Thursday.

"I'm not a numbers geek, but one of the things that I do know is the power play that Vegas runs, the 5-on-3 brand that they use, is not employed in the National Hockey League by any team, other than maybe the Vancouver Canucks with the Sedin brothers, who are now retired," said May, sponsored by Dominion Jewelers.

"They run it from behind the net. It's a very different look," he said. "They try to get you looking over the shoulder, focused on the puck, and the players sneak into the slot for one-timers from below the goal line. And the Caps, their pre-scout on which looks that the Knights were going to go with, was really good."

"It was don't chase the puck below the goal line," he said. "Don't chase the puck to the boards. You get to a certain area, you gotta stop, repel back to the top of the ice if you're the high forward. Don't over-commit on anything and let Braden be able to see the puck. As a team, the Capitals are saying we want the shot from the defenseman.

"We want to take the 55-foot shot and let Braden see it, and then he's just gonna have his glove there. He's gonna make it a routine, easy save. If he can see it, we're gonna kill this off, and that's exactly what they did last night. That goes to coaching once again, and commitment by the players to make sure that they're paying attention, they're buying in, they're doing everything that's asked of them."

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