With all due respect to the Avalanche/Penguins clash in Pittsburgh (and even the Leafs’ visit to Buffalo to take on the surprising Sabres), the must-watch game in the NHL tonight comes in Vegas. That’s where the Golden Knights will welcome the Washington Capitals for a rematch of last year’s Stanley Cup Final.

It’s also where the Caps cruelly dashed Vegas’ hopes of becoming the first expansion team to win a Stanley Cup in its inaugural season, beating the Knights 4-3 in Game 5 to finish off a convincing 4-1 victory over Vegas and claim the NHL championship. The teams have already met once this season in Washington, but now the Knights have a chance to avenge that loss on their home ice — something that would thrill the hockey-mad Vegas fans in attendance.

Will Vegas get its revenge tonight, or will the Capitals continue their surge up the Eastern Conference standings following a mediocre start to the campaign? I’ll answer that question and more in this edition of my NHL Pick of the Week.

Washington Capitals vs Vegas Golden Knights Betting Odds

The oddsmakers like Vegas’ chances of getting some revenge tonight, but bettors seem to love them. After the Knights opened as -125 home favorites yesterday afternoon, overnight betting action steamed Vegas up to -140 on the moneyline. At the time of writing, the Knights were -142 chalk to hand the Capitals a defeat, while Washington paid +129 to pull off the mild upset.

The Over/Under has also seen quite a bit of movement, almost all of it to the Over. Books opened this game with a total of 5.5 (with -125 juice on the Over), but quickly had to adjust to an Over/Under of 6. It’s since stabilized with the Over 6 priced at -106 odds and the Under 6 costing -104 to play.

All of that money on the Knights has also dropped their payout on the -1.5 puck line. Vegas is +190 to win tonight’s game by 2 goals or more. Washington, which hasn’t lost a game by more than 1 goal since Nov. 14 in Winnipeg, is a -220 favorite to keep things within 1 goal again tonight or pull off the outright victory.

All odds that are referenced in this article were taken from BetOnline.ag at 12:30 p.m. eastern on December 4, 2018. These odds may have changed since the time of this writing.

Capitals Blew Big Lead Last Time Out

It took a while for the Capitals to get rolling this season, but Washington has resumed its place as one of the league’s best teams over the past month. In fact, the Caps carried a 7-game winning streak into Sunday’s home game against the Anaheim Ducks and looked well on their way to extending that streak to 8 wins after opening up a 5-1 lead in the second period.

However, that’s when things suddenly turned for Washington goaltender Braden Holtby and his teammates. The Ducks rallied to score 5 unanswered goals, including 3 in the third period, to stun Washington 6-5. “We got away from our team identity, and we worked really hard to establish that identity in our run of games we were winning there,” Capitals coach Todd Reirden told reporters.

It was just a couple of bad periods as the Caps may have let their foot off the gas too soon, but losses like that can have a snowball effect. When Washington takes the ice tonight, the lasting memory in the players’ minds will be getting outscored 3-0 in the third period 2 days ago at home. Holtby’s confidence may be a little rattled after giving up 6 goals on just 25 shots. It may even be a sign of his game coming back to earth again after a 7-game stretch during which he was beaten just 10 times. Prior to that hot streak, Holtby had given up 3 goals or more in 7 of 9 games.

One thing the Capitals continued to do well Sunday, however, was put the puck in the net. Their 5 goals against Anaheim marked the ninth time in 10 days they’d scored at least 3, and they come into this contest having scored 20 times in their previous 4 outings. They’ve also enjoyed plenty of success offensively against the Golden Knights, potting at least 3 goals in 6 of their 7 meetings last year (including playoffs) and then doing it again in a 5-2 win over Vegas in early October.

Knights Motivated By Cup Final Loss

When the Golden Knights made that visit to Washington in October, most of the Vegas players downplayed any talk that they were seeking revenge for their loss to the Capitals in last year’s Stanley Cup Final. But goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury didn’t hide his emotions.

“They beat us last year. I think if we can give it back to them for one year, it would be nice,” Fleury told reporters before the Golden Knights’ early-season visit to Washington in October. “I’m still not over (the Cup Final loss). When you watch tapes of them celebrating and stuff, it still (stinks).”

I think Fleury’s attitude is one that is common in that Vegas dressing room, but that the players didn’t want the media to make a big deal out of the revenge angle. That was also a different point in the Knights’ season, when Vegas was struggling out of the gate and was just desperate for 2 points against anybody, regardless of whether their opponent beat them in the Cup final or missed the playoffs by 30 points.

Now, the Golden Knights have a much better shot at getting that revenge as they welcome the Caps to their rink for the first time this season. Vegas is playing lights-out defensively right now at T-Mobile Arena, having posted 3 shutouts in its last 4 games on home ice. And the Knights are playing really well at the other end of the ice as well, averaging 6 goals per game during the 3 games before Saturday’s 2-1 loss in Edmonton. It’s not like Vegas laid an egg against the Oilers Saturday, either. The Knights were simply the latest team to fall victim to Oilers goaltender Mikko Koskinen, who has stolen the #1 goaltending job in Edmonton with a sensational start to the year.

Normally, I might be a little worried about a team’s focus in its first game back after a road trip, but there’s something about facing the defending Stanley Cup champions that tends to bring out teams’ best games. When that defending Cup champion was the team that dashed your own playoff dreams the previous spring, there’s no way you’re going to look past them.

Washington Capitals vs. Vegas Golden Knights Betting Pick

They say revenge is a dish best served cold, and I expect the Capitals to get a very chilly reception tonight from the Golden Knights and their fans. Last year was a fairy tale for Vegas in its inaugural season, and Washington was the villain that spoiled the ending. Tonight, the Caps pay the price.

Expect Vegas to bring its absolute best game here, especially in its own end where the Knights have allowed just 10 goals in their last 6 games. At the other end of the rink, I like the way Vegas has been putting the puck in the net of late, and Holtby and the Caps could be vulnerable after Sunday’s late-game collapse against Anaheim.

I still think there’s solid value on the -142 moneyline here with Vegas, but I don’t think they’ll need overtime to get the job done tonight. For my NHL pick of the week, I’ll take the Golden Knights to win in regulation time (the 3-way moneyline at BetOnline) at +100 odds — with a sprinkle on Vegas -1.5 +190 as well.

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