Lightning get back into series with big road win over Capitals

Eloise Marshall
May 17, 2018

Victor Hedman scored his first goal of the playoffs and added two assists, and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 36 saves to help the Tampa Bay Lightning get back into their Eastern Conference final series against the host Washington Capitals. The Caps didn't let the Lightning get into a rhythm on offense and had them on their heels on defense.

Both teams entered the game red-hot on the power play, and the Lightning's unsafe extra-man unit continued its terrorizing ways.

Their biggest early test came nine minutes in, when Anton Stralman boarded Tom Wilson - minutes after Wilson had delivered a big hit of his own in front of Vasilevskiy - and gave the Caps a power play.

"They came in here, they're desperate and they played that way", said Capitals coach Barry Trotz. But Tuesday was a different story. The starting time for each Capitals home game was pushed back an hour to 8 PM, increasing the likelihood that the final horn would blow after Metro closed its doors at 11:30 PM. The center has missed four games with a right hand injury sustained when he blocked a shot in Game 5 of the second round against Pittsburgh.

The Bolts held that lead into the second period and then extended it early in the middle frame on Nikita Kucherov's patented right circle one-timer at 1:50, Tampa Bay's two snipers in the circles creating havoc for the Caps' penalty killers.

If Stamkos' power-play goal to open the scoring was the game's most important, certainly Point's marker was the timeliest goal.

"It was more kind of like an anger of like we want to get back - like let's get Game 3 going here", Tampa Bay's coach said.

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Backstrom participated in the morning skate on Tuesday and before a 6-2, Game 2 win at Tampa Bay on Sunday. If not, they'll at least be comforted by the notion that Game 5 is in Tampa.

Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals gives up a goal. Maybe petition the league to move the game - the Caps are an undefeated 2-0 when playing outdoors in the Washington area.

With Holtby pulled for an extra skater late in the third, Evgeny Kutnetzov scored at 16:58 off of T.J. Oshie's feed to narrow the deficit to two goals.

And another Lightning goal! The Lightning even got some bounces themselves. Washington can't take lazy/dumb penalties like they did in Game 3. Eller took his third of the night when he cross-checked Steven Stamkos, but Stamkos was sent off at the same time for roughing Eller in a tussle after the play.

Backstrom has three goals and 10 assists in 11 games this postseason, including one overtime game victor.

Washington didn't have much of the magic they found in abundance in Tampa, although their possession numbers showed they controlled the majority of the shot share. "We're going to need that to keep going". The Capitals know first hand how risky it can be to squander a 2-0 lead at home, having survived being in the Lightning's position in the opening round when they dropped the first two games to the Columbus Blue Jackets only to win three straight road games en route to a 4-2 series win.

But as Tuesday night proved, they can't take anything for granted.

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