The only thing more insurmountable in sports than a 3-1 lead in a seven game series is at 3-0 lead in a series. Throughout the history of the Stanley Cup Finals, the team that led 3-1 has gone on to win the overwhelming majority of the time. 31 times in a row now where that situation has occurred, the team that took the lead would raise the trophy. Only once, making it a record of 32-1 for teams with a 3-1 lead, has that team failed to win it. That was in 1942 when the Detroit Red Wings came from 3-0 to win the series 4-3.
That isn’t quite what the Las Vegas Golden Knights will have to do, but it is very close now after the Washington Capitals took Game 4 to grab a commanding lead in the series. The Capitals won the game 6-2 on Monday night, propelling them to within touching distance of the trophy. The result was, realistically, never in danger after the first period. The Capitals laid down a marker and set the tone straightaway by taking a 3-0 lead to the break. Performances by goaltender Braden Holtby and Evgeny Kuznetsov proved to be enough, with the latter claiming four assists in the romp. In the second period, the Capitals pulled away further with another goal, and though the Golden Knights fought back in the third, it was too little too late.
Kuznetsov’s game was the equivalent of a 20 assist game in the NBA. It was absolutely incredible, and it meant that fellow superstar Alex Ovechkin didn’t have to have his very best night in order for their team to win. Now, they stand on the cusp of doing something many Caps fans would have doubted for years: getting their hands on the Stanley Cup.
But make no mistake about it: this series is not over yet. Game 5 will be in Las Vegas, and you have to believe the Golden Knights will come out swinging their swords. They didn’t play all that badly in Game 4, they simply didn’t take their chances and were punished by a team that did. And oh yeah, there’s that matter of the Capitals being horrible with leads in the past. Sure, they broke that hoodoo in the last round, but could some of it just linger? With a win in Vegas, they can put the pressure on when it goes back to Washington. Who knows. Two wins, and they could have a shot in Vegas in a Game 7. Would you put past them? They were 500-1 to win it all to begin with, right?