Through two periods Saturday, Devante Smith-Pelly was a having a rough night. He had taken both of his team’s minor penalties, including an early goalie interference infraction that negated a goal.
The good news for Smith-Pelly was that he still had 20 minutes remaining to redeem himself.
And redeem himself he did.
With the Caps up a goal and the Golden Knights making a push, Smith-Pelly finished a slick Jay Beagle setup pass to seal a 3-1 victory in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.
“I wanted to get one back because I had two penalties in the game,” Smith-Pelly told CBC’s Scott Oake after the game. “I’m happy I got to redeem myself.”
It was indeed a measure of atonement for Smith-Pelly.
But it also fit a pattern of DSP coming up huge in clutch moments this postseason.
In fact, Smith-Pelly now has five goals in 22 playoff games. To put that into perspective, he had seven goals all regular season (75 games).
Of his five postseason tallies, four have come in the third period. The Caps are also 4-1 when he scores.
Let’s recap his goals:
- Game 1 vs. Columbus: The Blue Jackets ended up winning 4-3 in OT, but DSP gave the Caps a 3-2 third period lead…and, for a moment, some hope of seizing early control of the first round series.
- Game 6 vs. Columbus: Smith-Pelly gave the Caps a 4-2 third period lead in the series-clinching win.
- Game 2 vs. Tampa Bay: He knotted the game 2-2 early in the second period, sparking a run of five straight goals for the Caps.
- Game 6 vs. Tampa Bay: Smith-Pelly scored midway through the third period to put the Caps ahead 2-0 in a game they eventually won 3-0.
- Game 3 vs. Las Vegas: He struck in the third period to put Washington up 3-1, ending the Golden Knights’ push before it really gained any traction.
It should also be noted that Smith-Pelly assisted on Lars Eller’s double OT tally in Washington’s season-saving Game 3 victory vs. the Blue Jackets.
Should Smith-Pelly’s postseason outburst come as a surprise?
He forged a reputation for shining on the postseason stage in junior with Mississauga of the OHL. Then, as a third-year NHLer in 2014, he produced five goals in 12 postseason games for the Ducks.
When the Caps were contemplating signing Smith-Pelly as a free agent last summer, his history of performing in the playoffs was a factor in the decision to bring him aboard.
And now he’s delivering—right on time—exactly what the Caps hoped he would.
“It started in junior—I’ve always loved the playoffs,” Smith Pelly told NBC’s Pierre McGuire after Saturday’s game. “I love scoring the big goals. I don’t know what it is, but these kinds of games, obviously, are the best to play in.”