The Golden Knights were quicker and more tenacious out of the gate, but the Caps were able to fight through that slow start and get their offense going - including striking for two goals in 42 seconds toward the end of the opening frame. Marc-Andre Fleury had 24 saves to pick up his 75th career playoff victory, just two behind Mike Vernon for seventh on the all-time list.
But Fleury's struggles didn't matter because the Golden Knights' fourth line, which includes a Frenchman (Pierre-Édouard Bellemare), a Czech (Tomas Nosek) and a Canadian (Ryan Reaves), rode to the rescue.
Nosek's victor at 9:44 of the final period came after Vegas defenceman Shea Theodore moved down the boards and put his wide-open teammate's second goal of the playoffs on a silver platter at the side of Holtby's net.
"It's just (the) first win", said Nosek, who was plucked from the Detroit Red Wings in the expansion draft not even 12 months ago.
"We feed off the energy, we have been feeding off the energy all year", said Reaves. "Build, build, build. Create momentum for your team".
As happens sometimes in games with high stakes, the refs put away their whistles for a while, leading to an anything goes series of plays through the second and third period.
Vegas coach Gerard Gallant called the hit "real late and real hard" and said he felt Wilson deserved a five-minute major. Earlier in the playoffs, he told TV reporters, "I've been into hockey for pretty much all my life". They're deep - they've scored an average of 3.47 goals per game and allowed 2.47- and they can be physical, potentially an asset. Back and forth they went, trading goals, rendering helpless the two best goaltenders of the postseason.
Washington centre Lars Eller had an open net, but Golden Knights defenceman Brayden McNabb hustled to hammer Eller's stick with ideal timing to keep him from tying the game for the fifth time.
The couple originally had Austin in mind as their daughter's name, but made a decision to go with Riley - named after Knights player Reilly Smith.
Reaves, of course, saw it differently. "I don't know what they're crying about".
Wilson delivered his crushing open-ice hit moments later to Marchessault, who was shaken up on the play. Trotz said he thought the Capitals were going to the power play.
"It's late and I hope the league does something about it", Reaves said. "It's just Wilson doing what Wilson does".
"I thought we showed a lot of character and kept coming back and we found a way", Bellemare said.
LeBron James shuts down Boston Celtics' Finals plans with another legendary performance
It sure has looked at times as though he relishes these moments, though James said otherwise at Cavaliers shootaround Friday. The Cavs needed it to survive, but it's questionable if there will be lingering effects Sunday.