WASHINGTON (AP) — Charlie Lindgren didn’t need much goal support to beat the defending Stanley Cup champions. He pretty much did it by himself.
Lindgren stopped all 35 shots he faced to help the Washington Capitals shut out the NHL-best Vegas Golden Knights 3-0 on Tuesday night for their third consecutive victory. It was his third career shutout and first since signing with Washington in the summer of 2022.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Lindgren said, adding he felt in the zone right from the opening puck drop. “Boy, that’s a really good Vegas Golden Knight team over there: a lot of talent, a lot of skill. They definitely made us work for it tonight, but again the Caps come out on top. Big-time win.”
Connor McMichael scored an empty-netter in the final minute, and Beck Malenstyn added the exclamation point with Logan Thompson back in goal seconds later. The Capitals have won seven of their past nine despite being one of the league’s lowest-scoring teams and having the worst power play, which went 0 for 3 to drop to 7.3% this season.
Lindgren was the key to this win, making a crucial glove save on playoff leading scorer Jack Eichel and denying William Karlsson on a short-handed breakaway in the second period and turning aside back-to-back shots from Pavel Dorofeyev in the third.
“We had a lot of good looks,” Vegas captain Mark Stone said. “The goalie was scrambling, made some saves. Yeah, you give a little bit of credit to him. He made some good saves for them.”
Strome provided the goal support on a 2-on-1 rush late in the first, making this the fifth consecutive game the Capitals scored first. They’d only opened the scoring once in their first nine games this season.
The Golden Knights, who were honored by President Joe Biden at the White House on Monday for winning the franchise’s first championship, lost in regulation for the third time in four games after starting the season 11-0-1. Thompson, a 2018 Capitals development camp participant who credits the organization for sparking his professional career, allowed two goals on 30 shots.
“He played great,” Vegas defenseman Brayden McNabb said. “Both goalies played awesome. He’s been good for us all year. We’re super confident in him.”
What the game was lacking in offense, it made up for with some rough stuff. In his season debut for Washington, Dylan McIlrath fought Keegan Kolesar 13:32 in after laying out Vegas forward Jonas Rondbjerg with a big, open-ice hit.
Golden Knights forward Paul Cotter was given a match penalty and ejected early in the second for an illegal check to the head of Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov, who cleared concussion protocol and returned 10 minutes later. Cotter, who has no prior history in his brief NHL career, could have a disciplinary hearing as soon as Wednesday and faces a possible suspension for the hit.
Golden Knights: Visit the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday in the second stop on their five-game road trip.
Capitals: Host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday.