WASHINGTON — Perseverance paid off the Alex Tuch and the Vegas Golden Knights.
Tuch scored the go-ahead goal with 5:12 remaining, and the Golden Knights defeated the Washington Capitals 4-3 Sunday in a matchup of division leaders.
Vegas rallied three times from one-goal deficits to beat Washington for the second time this season.
“We never gave up. I thought we played our best game in two weeks, I really did, even though we were behind most of the (day),” Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant said. “It was only a one-goal lead every time, so we kept battling and we worked hard and that’s something our team has done all year long.”
On Tuch’s shot from in close, Capitals goalie Philipp Grubauer tied to corral the loose puck, but knocked it into the net with his catching hand. Washington challenged the play for goaltender interference, but the goal stood.
“We were working hard down low and getting a lot of good opportunities,” Tuch said. “One was bound to go in and I got pretty lucky that it went off my stick and snuck between his legs there.”
It was Tuch’s first tally since Jan. 5, snapping an 11-game stretch without a goal.
Nicklas Backstrom gave Metropolitan Division-leading Washington a 3-2 lead 52 seconds into the third period. Reilly Smith tied it when he scored his second goal of the game on a wrist shot from the left circle at 9:21.
Marc-Andre Fleury, who had consecutive shutouts against Washington coming in, stopped 20 shots.
Ryan Carpenter had a goal and an assist for the Golden Knights, leaders of the Pacific Division. Jonathan Marchessault and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare each had two assists, and Tuch also had an assist.
Matt Niskanen had a goal and an assist for Washington. Chandler Stephenson scored his third goal in his last three games after netting two in his first 36.
Grubauer had 27 saves for Washington, which is 2-3-2 in its last seven.
“We’re just giving up too good of chances right now,” Niskanen said. “Ideally, you wouldn’t give up many chances at all because you’re attacking and you have the puck more. But at the very least we’ve got to deflect the puck to the outside and keep things to the perimeter.”
Both teams were coming off three-goal losses on Friday night. The Golden Knights improved to 3-1 so far on their six-game trip.
“They’ve got an unwavering belief that they’re going to find a way to get a puck in and they’re getting a lot of breaks,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “And they’re playing good.”
Washington made it 1-0 at 7:22 of the first period when Stephenson beat Fleury to the far side with a wrist shot from the left circle. The goal ended Fleury’s personal shutout streak against Washington at 134 minutes, 53 seconds, dating to Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals last year when he was with Pittsburgh.
Vegas tied it at 16:06 on a play started by former Capital Nate Schmidt, who carried the puck into the Washington zone and passed back to Bellemare, whose centering pass was re-directed by Carpenter past Grubauer.
The goal snapped a 27-game drought for Carpenter dating to January 2017.
Niskanen made it 2-1 at 8:38 of the second period. The Golden Knights tied it on a power play goal with 1:07 left when Grubauer stopped Smith’s first two shots in front, but not the third.
NOTES: Gallant said F Will Carrier, who left the game with an upper-body injury, is day-to-day. … Fleury moved ahead of Dominik Hasek for 13th all-time with 390 career wins. … Fleury stopped 26 shots in a Dec. 23 Vegas win and 29 for the Penguins in a 2-0 Game 7 win in the conference semifinals. … Golden Knights D Brad Hunt was back in the lineup, replacing D Jason Garrison. … Capitals F Jakub Vrana, a healthy scratch the previous two games, was in the lineup in place of F Alex Chiasson. … Washington had allowed the first goal in nine straight games.
Golden Knights: At Pittsburgh on Tuesday.
Capitals: At Columbus on Tuesday.
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