Referees, snapping heads and Evgeny Kuznetsov highlight Game 4 win for Capitals

The Vegas Golden Knights went in to the Capital One arena to face the Capitals hoping for a the split before heading home. Washington did not let them do that.

Referees, snapping heads and Evgeny Kuznetsov highlight Game 4 win for Capitals
The Washington Capitals are one game from hoisting the Cup. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Vegas Golden Knights
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Washington Capitals

Frantic start in Washington

Game 4 is a very important game and both teams came out with intensity. Alex Ovechkin hit the post on his first shift, and Erik Haula deflected a puck off the post seconds later.

The building was rocking and Vegas got an early attempt on the power play. They had some good chances and they did not convert.

James Neal had an empty net and he rang it off the post. It was a huge play and could define his career when he retires.

Washington continues to convert

Colin Miller took a penalty at center ice after kneeing Lars Eller. It was a lazy play and it turned out to bite the Knights. They continued to give Nicklas Backstrom lots of space and he made them pay. He found Evgeny Kuznetsov open in front and after Marc-Andre Fleury made the save it bounced to T. J. Oshie. He took the puck from skate to stick and buried it.

The period continued on and Vegas began to turn the puck over. Vegas iced the puck and the top line of Washington hopped on the ice. Kuznetsov found Tom Wilson open in front and he made no mistake.

Deryk Engelland was in no-mans-land and Fleury could not make the save as it went under his glove.

End of period disaster

20 seconds remained in the first period and Shea Theodore made a terrible play up the boards. He made a lazy chip and Ovechkin picked it off.

He found Matt Niskanen across the ice and after the save from Fleury Devante Smith-Pelly used skate to blade and he buried it over the shoulder of Fleury. It was a huge play and Vegas put themselves in a deep hole on the road, down by three goals early.

Desperate second period

The Vegas Golden Knights were on their backs and they needed a strong second period to get back in the game. They did not have great scoring chances and the Washington Capitals continued to be the better team. 

They had a power play after John Carlson took his second penalty of the game and it did not lead to great scoring chances.

The top line looked uninterested and William Karlsson who had 43 goals during the season would not shoot the puck. 

The post was a factor again in the second period. Shea Theodore got a shot from the point through traffic and it beat Braden Holtby, but not the post.

Chances with no results

Vegas got their third power play of the game after Tom Wilson was called for a minor. They had good opportunities and lots of zone time, but no goals. James Neal missed another great chance and the team seemed snakebite.

Power play dominance

James Neal had a rough night and it got worse when he took a slashing penalty late in the second. Evgeny Kuznetsov made a beautiful cross- ice pass and John Carlson who one-timed it past the shoulder of Fleury.

This was the straw that broke the camel's back for Vegas. 

James Neal's redemption

James Neal had missed many opportunities over the course of the game. He finally found the back of the net on the power play. He cut the lead to 4-1 with a slick top-shelf goal. Washington was still in firm control and Vegas was playing with a low level of intensity.

Reilly Smith found the back of the net with seven and a half minutes remaining in the game. The top line of Vegas finally struck and the building was suddenly quiet and the fans were nervous. 

At 13:39 T.J. Oshie brought the puck into the zone as he fought off Colin Miller and dropped it to Nicklas Backstrom and he fed Michal Kempny alone across the ice. The trade deadline acquisition had his second of the playoffs.

Brett Connolly added insult to injury at 18:51 by closing out the offensive barrage that the Capitals inflicted on Vegas with a power play goal, making it 6-2.

The referees were busy calling 52 total minutes of penalties, with 17 minutes of penalties being called in the last several minutes. Vegas was frustrated, and it showed.

Braden Holtby outplayed Fleury again and he is emerging as a favorite to win the Vezina. He has been solid and has only allowed two goals in two home games. He will need to be huge for the Capitals to finish off the Knights on the road Thursday night.

Kuznetsov and Backstrom had seven points combined and Washington finished three for three on the power play. 

The series shifts to Vegas Thursday night. Do the Knights stay alive or does Ovechkin finally raise the Stanley Cup? Leave your comments below.