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5 takeaways from the Capitals’ big win in Game 2

It was another exciting game, and the rest of this Stanley Cup Final should be ridiculous.

NHL: Stanley Cup Final-Washington Capitals at Vegas Golden Knights Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Capitals evened up the series against the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final. The pace was a little slower than the first outing, but both teams continued to find ways to score against goalies who aren’t usually that vulnerable.

But it was Marc-Andre Fleury who was the more vulnerable, and the Capitals managed to get the win after a back-and-forth game. It was a game where neither team wanted to yield an inch, and the referees turned to the whistle more often than they did the first time out.

Here’s five takeaways from the 3-2 Washington win, as the series heads to D.C.

It’s going to remain a very physical series

In Game 1, Washington had 38 hits while Vegas had 25. In the first period of Game 2, the Caps had 22 hits while the Knights had 16. You can see a couple of them below.

Ouch. And then, we’ve got a big hit the other way. Still in the first period.

Yeah, pretty bad. In the second period, both teams added a further 13 hits each. By the end of the game, the Capitals had tallied 45 hits, while the Knights had 39 of their own.

Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers

In Game 1, the Capitals had two turnovers result in goals for the Golden Knights. They transition to the attack off of turnovers and mismatches incredibly quickly, and it’s something that was a major talking point going into Game 2.

In the first period alone, Washington had two takeaways and just 1 giveaway, while Vegas had a whopping 10 takeaways, but also 7 giveaways, and the game was tied at 1-1 after said period. Vegas added 6 takeaways in the second frame, but also had 4 giveaways, and allowed two goals in said period. Washington, meanwhile, had no giveaways in that second frame. Washington finished with just 4 giveaways, while Vegas had 12.

Turnovers are leaving goalies stranded for both teams, and it’s going to continue to be a big focus going deeper into the series.

Marc-Andre Fleury looks mortal

There were a slew of goals allowed in Game 1, and neither goalie looked particularly good. But it’s surprising to see someone like Fleury string together multiple games where he makes serious mistakes.

He was juuuuuust a bit outside the net on this goal.

And there’s also the Ovechkin goal mentioned above, where Fleury was seriously fooled by great passing. He’s usually pretty good about anticipating such moves and getting in front of them, but he had nothing to offer on that one. He finished with a .885 save percentage.

Meanwhile, Braden Holtby may have made the save of the year for Washington:

Referees like the whistle, all the sudden

In Game 1, the referees let things get physical, and they held the whistle pretty often, which of course had fans of both teams very angry. They called just four penalties in that first outing, including two in the third.

But in Game 2, there were two penalties in the first period, and then in the second period, a total of SEVEN penalties were called. In the third, the Golden Knights had over a minute of a 5-on-3. They were not able to convert that particular power play into a goal, however. There were two penalties called in the third, for a total of 11.

The best goals are still to come

There have been some pretty fantastic goals already through two games. Whether from poor goalie play, extremely good passing or titanic individual efforts, Game 2 had some pretty brilliant plays.

The first of the game, from James Neal, was particularly pretty:

And you can file the Alex Ovechkin tally in the second as a supreme effort in passing by everyone involved (Lars Eller and Andre Burakovsky).

It’s lame to imply that any one team wants a championship more than any other team, but gosh both of these teams are putting everything out there on just about every minute of play, in a way that should have fans of both teams pumped.

As my colleague Alex Kirshner put it after the first game, the Stanley Cup Final is an awesome, rip-roaring mess. Game 1 was ridiculous, and while Game 2 was slightly more tame, this series is already fantastic and off-the-wall. Whose got the edge going into Game 3?