Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals are unbowed after the first game of the Stanley Cup Final went to the Vegas Golden Knights.
Ovechkin said the Capitals are primed to rebound when they take the ice at T-Mobile Arena for Game 2 on Wednesday.
“One-hundred percent confidence,” Ovechkin said. “You can’t take only one game in this series. It’s going to be a long series, it’s going to be a hard series and I think we’re going to be ready for that.”
One critical key for the Capitals will be finding a way to secure a lead. An electric atmosphere in Vegas made life difficult for Washington with the Capitals falling behind 1-0 and 3-2. Ovechkin’s two shots on goal in Game 1 were both in the first period.
“We didn’t play our best game,” Ovechkin said. “I think we didn’t execute the puck in the neutral zone at some points. But we’re going to watch the video, we’re going to watch the highlights and we’re going to correct our mistakes and we’re going to be better. I think next game is going to be different and all the nervousness, all the bad things go away in this game. We just have to forget about it and bounce back in the next one.”
Goaltender Braden Holtby, who entered the series with a shutout streak of 159:27, had 28 saves in the opening game but felt he was rusty after a multi-day break in the lead in to the series.
“He’s got a short memory. He moves forward,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “All through the playoffs I think our whole group has had a real good understanding that there’s going to be swings in the series. There’s going to be swings during periods. There’s going to be different things. You’ve just got to let it go and you’ve just got to look forward and push forward. I think Braden does an excellent job. That’s why he’s one of the elite goaltenders in the National Hockey League.”
Ovechkin is in the Finals for the first time in 13 NHL seasons. Trotz felt many of his players were wide-eyed on hockey’s brightest stage.
Vegas is 7-1 on home ice in the playoffs, and the atmosphere has been a major asset. Holtby said it’s nearly impossible to communicate in the defensive zone.
“It’s a pretty incredible atmosphere out there, so they were feeding off their crowd and we knew they were going to come and they did,” Capitals forward Brett Connolly said. “And we answered it early. We did a good job of that and it just seemed like we’d get up by one and they’d come back and they’d score one. They just kept pushing.”
—Field Level Media