The Lightning won the most competitive game of the series in Washington D.C. and evened the series at two games apiece.
Taking a cue from their coach, the Capitals' dressing room was an optimistic place after Game 4, despite a parade of frustrating squandered chances. The Lightning rode that flash of energy from Stamkos's power-play goal for the remainder of Game 3, en route to a 4-2 victory at Capital One Arena in Washington. In particular, the goalies came to play. Despite playing three consecutive power plays in the late first, the Capitals sat on the puck or solo-handled into bad passes. Washington is 7-1 in away games. (Seriously, owner Ted Leonsis might want to consider offering concourse meditation classes during intermission for Game 6.) But this team entered the season with few legitimate expectations and then proceeded to win its third straight Metro Division title, overcame Columbus' 2-0 lead in the first round and then ended decades of torment with a six-game elimination of Pittsburgh.
- They had the sharper goalie.
Simply put, Vasilevskiy stole this one for his team. All four figured in the scoring in Game 3 and will likely need to continue to do so for the Lightning to win the series.
The game started just the way that the Capitals had scripted it. He had made strides in recent days, including expanding his workload in Thursday's morning skate.
Washington had a number of looks after pulling Holtby with about two minutes to play, but a combination of unlucky bounces and clutch saves by Vasilevskiy denied the Capitals the equalizer.
And then, for whatever reason, Washington made a decision to kill the good vibes. It wasn't until the midway point of the second that they recorded their first shot on goal of the period, snapping a 20-plus-minute drought without one. Brayden Point knotted the game on a back door cut following a Capital turnover and quality passing from Yanni Gourde and Tyler Johnson.
Tampa marched back to score two goals within 2:54 to stun the Caps, and take the lead 2-1. They stayed above the Capitals forwards in the offensive zone and kept their structure through the neutral zone. "The best player on the ice, for sure".
He finally received the news he had been waiting for around the team's lunch.
And then it'll be back to Washington for Game No. 6, where, the Capitals hope, the organist will play a sunnier tune.
For Washington, it does come down to opportunities.
The game was barely 8 1/2 minutes old, and the Lightning had only accumulated five shots. At times, it seemed like the puck never left Tampa Bay's blue line. The Capitals had four power plays and they held the Lightning without a shot for 21 minutes and 55 seconds, from the second half of the first through to the second half of the second.
Make no mistake about it this game was won with some marvelous work by Vasilevskiy, who was voted the number one star of the game, and with saves like this. who could argue?
Based on the shot attempts, Washington should have had plenty more.
The obvious difference was Vasilevskiy, whose rap sheet of gloved robberies was headlined by an off-balance snag of Brett Connolly's netfront redirection early in the third period.
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