Saturday, 20 October, 2018

AUDIO: Highlights of Capitals-Lightning East Final Game 4

Friday's Sports in Brief Quick Strikes: The Tampa Bay Lightning are back
Cassandra Gardner | 18 May, 2018, 11:46

Even the road team winning the first four games as what has transpired in the back-and-forth Eastern Conference Finals series between the Washington Capitals and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Lightning went up 2-1 lead less than 3 minutes later, with Stamkos putting the teams lone shot of a power play in off the left post.

Had the Caps been demolished in Game 4, as they were Tuesday, there would be more cause for concern. The Capitals had a number of Grade A opportunities, but Vasilevskiy was there to keep them at bay.

The Lightning tied the series 2-2 by exploiting Washington errors for two goals in the first period, then dumping in a short third-period goal after a Capitals penalty kill.

"As a goalie, you don't even really know if the power play is killed off or not", Holtby said. "And he sure did".

Still, the Capitals have been the better team this series, and you can bet they'll bring their A-Game to Capital One Arena.

All the Tampa Bay Lightning needed to tie up the Eastern Conference finals was that brief moment of satisfaction from their opponents. Maybe it takes some insane pre-game theatrics, like a knight cutting a jet in half, to win on home ice? Maybe the Lightning players should spend the night at the hotel prior to Game 5. Tampa Bay would take advantage not long after, with Steven Stamkos finding the back of the net.

"Our guys were gassed. All the mental stress, the same guys are on the ice the whole time", Tampa coach Jon Cooper said.

"There was no anger or anything going on in the (locker) room, " Cooper said. "You kind of lose your whole rhythm".

One key: Vasilevskiy played just like the Vezina Trophy finalist he is.

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Capitals top center Nicklas Backstrom returned to the lineup after missing four playoff games with a right-hand injury, and that meant Washington had its entire roster healthy and available for the first time since Game 2 of the team's first-round series against Columbus.

Following one flubbed chance, Ovechkin threw his head back and looked up, the very picture of disappointment. Washington controlled the pace of play for the rest of the period, and were aided by three Tampa minors.

"He didn't play great in the first two". He played well in the second two.

"We're going to need him pushing forward, especially now that he has a game under him, " goaltender Braden Holtby said. "We'll make it hard on him".

Capitals goalie Braden Holtby didn't get a chance to make almost as many saves, given the shot discrepancy: Washington ended up with 38 to Tampa Bay's 20.

The Lightning registered an empty net with two seconds remaining by Anthony Cirelli to get to the final score of 4-2. After all, Point ranked second in goals and third in scoring this past regular season for Tampa Bay.

"Tonight was so important", Killorn said.

The 1995 series (New Jersey-Philadelphia) and the 2004 series (Calgary-San Jose) both had the road team win the first five games before the home team closed it out in Game 6.

"I look at it this way: We've played well in three of four games", Trotz said. That gave Kuznetsov 21 points — 10 goals, 11 assists — and tied him with Ovechkin (who did it in 2009) for the most by a Capitals player in a single postseason. Three shifts after Washington's goal, Tampa Bay responded, capitalizing on an egregious blind, backhand pass across the slot. They managed just one shot on a second-period man advantage, even after the Lightning's Tyler Johnson had to discard his broken stick and skated stickless for almost half the two-minute penalty kill.

Prior to Game 4, the other games of the series hadn't been close.

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