After an unspectacular play-off game, the Capitals prevailed with a happy 3-2 over Graz and lead 1-0 in the series.

04.03.2020, Erste Bank Liga – Play-Off 2019-20 VF 1 Game 1: Vienna Capitals vs. Moser 99ers, #22 Julian Grosslercher, #10 Zintis Zusevics. ©Sportfoto/Andreas Urban

Play-off time in Vienna Kagran – the Viennese capitals received the Graz 99ers – Club of the latvian Zintis Zusevics. For the first time since September 2019, guests were able to start four lines. For Zusevics, the first play-offs are a new era: “Now the 5th season begins. We will try everything and maybe create a surprise against the Capitals. In the play-offs everything is possible.” Zusevics would also like to perform well and be recommended for the Latvian national team.

The Capitals took the lead with the first shot on goal – Alex Wall takes a pass from Mark Flood on the blue line, surprising Graz goalie Christopher Nihlstorp and scores 1-0. This flash start gave the host a boost and Phil Lakos missed it with a long shot. Shortly afterwards, Ali Wukovits alone awarded Nihlstorp and Sondre Olden also failed at the Graz goalkeeper. The Capitals also had the first power play but nothing worth seeing came out. After about eight minutes Graz had the first chance through Karl Johansson, he got stuck on the capitals Goalie Bernd Starkbaum. Graz had also a power-play game and Oliver Setzinger awards the compensation. Now the guests came into play better but Starkbaum was able to assert himself against Philipp Lindner and again Setzinger. The Capitals Youngster Lukas Piff had the last chance in this period – his shot barely missed the goal. On the way to the cabin, there was a little play-off mood when some players, including Ali Wukovits and Charles Dodero let their emotions run wild and gone in an infight.

04.03.2020, Erste Bank Liga -Play-Off 2019-20 VF Game 1: Vienna Capitals vs. Graz 99ers, ©Sportfoto/Andreas Urban

The middle period started with power play for the Capitals, but again there was no significant opportunity. The Graz team got going for this, but Lukas Kainz, from close range, and Lindner missed good opportunities. In a power play for Graz, Matt Garbowsky had the equalizer on the racket, but he only hits the outside net. Shortly thereafter, Erik Kirchschläger made a quick push, but he also failed due to goalie Starkbaum. Then the capitals also came to chances – but Patrik Kittinger and Mario Fischer could not exploit them. At the end of the period, Julian Großlercher had the chance alone before Nihlstorp, he failed miserably. On the Graz side, it was Joakim Hillding, and he couldn’t put the puck in the empty gate either. Shortly before the break, Setzinger had to go to the penalty bench and the capitals started the end of the period again with a power play.

04.03.2020, Erste Bank Liga Play-Offs 2019-20 VF Game 1: Vienna Capitals vs. Graz 99ers: #57 Karl Johansson, #6 Rafael Rotter, #41 Cristopher Nihlstorp

The Capitals took advantage of this numerical advantage and Holzapfel scored after a pass from Rafael Rotter to 2-0 (42.). Shortly afterwards, the people of Graz had a power play, but chances still remained. The Capitals looked better, but the people of Graz tried to get there again – which was successful. A quick advance from Grafenthin and this concludes well worth the 1-2 (48.) and made it exciting again. Also since the capitals came to a power play. But the Grazer had the chance – Oberkofler fails with his shot at Starkbaum. The Capitals then settled in the third of Graz and two seconds after Collberg’s sentence expired, Holzapfel, after a pecking in front of the Graz gate, scored 3-1 (52.) – his second goal that evening. Around six minutes before the end, the Graz team even played a 5-vs-3 power-play game – Rotter and Zawlewski had to sit in the pits. But Goalie Starkbaum was a sure support, held what there was to hold and survived this dangerous phase without conceding a goal. Three minutes before the end there was power play for the Graz team again. Graz coach Mason then took Nihlstorp off the ice and took full risk. The Capitals threw themselves into every shot and goalie Starkbaum was very safe. But a second before the penalty expired, the Grazer managed 2-3 (59.) through Grafenthin – his sedcond goal. After this goal, Nihlstorp stayed out of the gate after a time-out. Together, the Capitals brought this victory over the distance and take the lead 1-0 in the series.

Despite the defeat, Zintis Zusevics performed very well, worked a lot and was a real pillar in the Graz game.

Vienna Capitals vs Graz 99ers 3-2 (1-0, 0-0, 2-2) – Total: 1-0