The Washington Capitals are just one game away from winning the first championship in franchise history after defeating the Vegas Golden Knights 6-2 in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Stanley Cup Game 4
Led by four assists by Evgeny Kuznetsov, the Washington Capitals defeated the Vegas Golden Knights 6-2 in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. (Image: Getty)

The Capitals now hold a 3-1 lead in the series. Washington will have their first of three chances to win the title on Thursday night in Game 5 in Las Vegas.

Capitals Coast After Early Lead

While each of the first three games in the Stanley Cup Final were competitive contests throughout, Game 4 belonged to Washington the whole way. The Capitals jumped out to a 3-0 first period lead behind goals from TJ Oshie, Tom Wilson, and Devante Smith-Pelly.

The Golden Knights did briefly make a game of it in the third period. Trailing 4-0, goals by James Neal and Reilly Smith managed to pull Vegas back within two goals with 7:34 remaining in the game, sparking hopes of a miraculous comeback. But just over a minute later, Michal Kempny put the game away for good with his second goal of the playoffs.

The Capitals were led by Evgeny Kuznetsov, who tallied four assists during Game 4. After the game, Kuznetsov said he was trying not to think about being one game away from hoisting the Stanley Cup.

“I don’t really care about that yet, so it’s kind of easy for me,” Kuznetsov told reporters. “I’m pretty sure when game gonna come, we’re gonna a little bit think about it. It’s pretty hard to not think about that.”

Golden Knights Rue Missed Opportunities

While the final score suggests the game was never in doubt, the first few minutes played out far differently. The Golden Knights had several good chances early but failed to convert, with multiple shots hitting posts, including one by James Neal that failed to hit a wide open net.

“Man, you want those chances. Nine times out of 10 you probably put that in the back of the net,” Neal told reporters after the loss. “I mean, I don’t know. It’s tough. It’s not like anyone made a save. I shot it off the post on the far side.”

The early misses left Vegas stunned, facing a heavy deficit despite feeling like they had controlled much of the first period. But according to Washington coach Barry Trotz, that’s par for the course for his team.

“When it mattered we were able to get it done,” Trotz told reporters. “That’s what this team has done over the course of the playoffs. Even when we’re maybe not at our best we’ve been able to get it done.”

The Capitals now find themselves in a dominant position, needing just one win in three games to win their first Stanley Cup. Ladbrokes has them posted as 1/7 favorites to finish off the expansion Golden Knights, who are now a 5/1 underdog to finish off their incredible first-year run with a title.

With their backs against the wall, the Knights do have one thing going for them: they get to play in front of their home crowd for Game 5.

“We’re in a do-or-die situation,” Neal said. “We’ve been great at home, so we’ll go home and play our best game again and find a way to win one game and then we’ll focus on coming back here.”