However, the goal was waved off after a replay. Vasilevskiy has looked really good after stating late in the season that he was feeling tired, so it's going to be interesting to see what happens if that Capitals can continue their strong 5-on-5 play coupled with a very unsafe power play. He nearly never seems to be out of position, and he never puts the puck in harms way.
From the opening faceoff, the Capitals dominated the offensive zone, outshooting and out-chancing the Lightning. If that happens, that could swing things right then and there. Yes those five players did some damage, but Pittsburgh didn't abuse Washington like they did with Philadelphia.
The Jets got tremendous defensive play on the road in this series and the goaltending was superb with Connor Hellebuyck continuing a Vezina-quality season.
The Capitals' win was particularly notable because they have been dealing with adversity in these playoffs and have managed to persevere. Averaged 34.2 hits per game against Boston, up from 30.2 against New Jersey ...
This could be a skater's series. This series figures to be an entertaining one as well with plenty of high octane offensive stars on both sides of the puck to drive both goaltenders insane.
Holtby posted his worst regular season statistics, by far, this season.
Braden Holtby has really been a postseason savior for the Capitals. The team has made no offers since Washington ousted Pittsburgh and both Trotz and the Capitals' executives seem content to wait until this playoff run is over to discuss his future with the team.
Prediction: Winnipeg in six games. At the same time, he's more susceptible to being scored on during breakaways than Tuukka Rask. Although, I give the edge to Tampa Bay due to the fact they have the experience factor and have been in this situation before, although it could go either way.
"I think our players understood that getting past Pittsburgh, which has been a real source of pain in the Washington, D.C., area for the last number of years, and especially for that core group, was really important", coach Barry Trotz said. The Lightning are the deepest team in hockey and now have all the momentum in the world after surgically dismantling the Bruins. "We just went right back to work, and I think the guys responded well tonight". That's how deep the attack is in Tampa Bay. They've always got the smile on. "The same old story sometimes can get old". The Capitals can not be ruled out in this regard. The moneyline is big for a reason. He was once again the top goal-scorer in hockey this season.
The Pittsburgh connections extend to the Western final as well, where the expansion Vegas Golden Knights, backed by former longtime Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, were awaiting Thursday night's victor between the Nashville Predators (who lost last year's Stanley Cup final to Pittsburgh) and Winnipeg Jets (who've never made it this far before).
Andrei Vasilevskiy is a rare kind of goaltender. "Intangible is such a simplistic term but it really comes down to belief and faith and confidence in what they're doing and that ultimately is going to be the difference".
And then James ripped the hearts out of Raptors fans everywhere in games one and three.
Let's get to the picks, shall we? The Capitals are hoping to achieve that feat for the first time since 1998. They even made Boston look weak, which shocked me because I thought Boston would give Tampa Bay a good fight. They both have talented veterans on the back-end. Confidence is a much better barometer than analytics when you're trying to determine whether team A has an advantage over team B. Backstrom isn't mentioned because he is dealing with a hand injury and his status for at least the beginning of this round is up in the air, which is a huge key for Washington.
Though I'll firmly stand behind the opinion that Philipp Grubauer earned the chance to start this playoff run between the pipes, nobody will argue that Holtby deserves to be there now.
Why The Lightning Win If it wasn't for a lull in the back half of the season, Tampa Bay, who were long seen as the Presidents' Trophy frontrunners, probably could have sealed the deal and taken the prize as the regular season's top team. The Lightning actually trailed 1-0 through one period and it remained that way until Point tied it up midway through the second. If it becomes a series about speed, it's hard to compete in that department with Brayden Point. "But we didn't do anything to earn our breaks", Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. It looks to be playoff hockey at its finest.
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