On a night when Sin City provided a glitzy, entertaining, over-the-top show for all the hockey world to see, a member of the supporting cast played the hero’s role in a wild final act.
Fourth-line winger Tomas Nosek scored the go-ahead goal midway through the third period Monday before adding an empty netter as the expansion Vegas Golden Knights fought back from deficits of 3-2 and 4-3 to defeat the Washington Capitals 6-4 in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final.
But it was a 25-year-old from the Czech Republic that fans at a raucous T-Mobile Arena were celebrating as the Knights inched closer to an improbable championship.
“It’s just the first win,” said Nosek, who was plucked from the Detroit Red Wings in the expansion draft not even a year ago. “Three more and I’ll be more excited.”
Three wins away from the craziest Cup victory imaginable.
Reilly Smith, with a goal and an assist, Colin Miller, William Karlsson and Ryan Reaves also scored for the Knights, who got 24 saves from Marc-Andre Fleury. Deryk Engelland chipped in with two assists.
Nicklas Backstrom, with a goal and an assist, Brett Connolly, John Carlson and Tom Wilson replied for the Capitals. T.J. Oshie added two assists, while Braden Holtby made 28 saves.
Game 2 goes Wednesday in Vegas before the best-of-seven series switches to Washington for Games 3 and 4
Monday marked the first game for the Capitals in the final since their only other appearance in 1998 when they were swept in four straight by Detroit.
Washington had failed to get beyond the second round of the playoffs in the 20 years since, including Alex Ovechkin’s entire career, before beating the Pittsburgh Penguins this spring to qualify for the Eastern Conference final against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Golden Knights, who brushed aside the Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks and the Jets to advance to the Cup final in a stunning first season, played just their 98th game in franchise history.
Source: Canadian Press/Joshua Clipperton
Photo: © Provided by thecanadianpress.com