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Around the NHL: Ovechkin, Capitals Take Series Lead

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

The Stanley Cup Final shifted to Washington for Game 3 on Saturday night and the Capitals came to play again.

With Evgeny Kuznetsov in the lineup again and Alex Ovechkin and Braden Holtby continuing to make big contributions, the Capitals took a 2-1 series lead, defeating the Vegas Golden Knights, 3-1, in Game 3.

The two teams skated to a scoreless first period, but it didn't take long in the second for Washington to break the ice.

John Carlson redirected a chance on goal that Marc-Andre Fleury managed to stop. From there, it was chaos as Fleury was out of his net and the Capitals swarmed. Tom Wilson threw a shot off the outside of the post. Fleury recovered briefly to stop Kuznetsov and Carlson on rebound chances. Ovechkin was able to get another rebound and chip it past Fleury to open the scoring at 1:10 of the second.

With just over seven minutes remaining in the second, the Capitals struck on an odd-man rush. Jay Beagle poked the puck ahead to start a 2-on-1 that briefly became a 3-on-1. While moving up the ice, he put a pass to the wing for Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov took it from there, cutting in on goal and firing a shot off the post and in behind Fleury to make it 2-0.

Early in the third, Vegas got a break that put them right back in the game. Holtby played the puck behind the net and tried to pass to a teammate in front, but it was deflected by Pierre-Edouard Bellemare right to the stick of Tomas Nosek, who had an empty net and didn't miss. The goal at 3:29 of the third cut the lead to one.

With time starting to run out on Vegas, the Capitals got some insurance from their fourth line. Beagle set up Devante Smith-Pelly in front of the net off a turnover by Shea Theodore and Smith-Pelly went upstairs on Fleury to make it 3-1 with 6:07 to play.

After allowing the early goal in the third, Holtby was rock solid. There was no clutch save like in Game 2, but he did stop 21 of 22 shots in the game to remain red hot in the playoffs. Fleury made 23 saves in the loss.

Game 4 is set to take place on Monday night at 8 p.m. from Washington, where the Capitals will look to take a commanding 3-1 lead in the series while Vegas looks to pull even.

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