Lightning shutdown Capitals in Game 4 to even series: 3 takeaways

Danny Woods
May 18, 2018

Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom returned to the lineup from a hand injury for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Also seen is Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86), of Russian Federation.

Capitals goalie Braden Holtby took his helmet off and skated over to Washington's bench and looked up at the big screen for the replay, and he watched Killorn stuff the eventual game-winner through his legs.

That stretch was part of a chunk of almost 21 full minutes of game time - the last 10:41 of the first period, followed by the initial 10:11 of the second - during which Tampa Bay did not put a shot on net. With the series shifting to Capital One Arena in D.C., Vasilevskiy raised his game to get the Tampa Bay Lightning in the series with a convincing game three victory.

It remained somewhat of a tender topic through the first two games against Washington, which poses so many matchup problems with its power play with Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov, who tied the game at 2 on Thursday night less than two minutes before Hedman was called for his penalty. And when the second period began, even though they were back to five-on-five play, the Lightning were out of synch. The lethal power play unit failed to score in seven opportunities at home, including 0-for-4 in Game 4.

"It's the playoffs, " Backstrom said after the game. "Just got to be aware when he's on the ice". And yet, there were four penalties in the first period and another two in the second and third periods. They had a rocky sequence about five minutes into the frame - and Vasilevskiy made a lunging rebound save on Brett Connolly.

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After one flubbed chance, Ovechkin threw his head back and looked up, the very picture of disappointment. They registered 38 shots to Tampa Bay's 20. Tyler Johnson made some key plays without a stick on the fourth penalty kill. Washington dominated play for long stretches of time as it held Tampa without a shot for 21 minutes at one point.

The Lightning climbed back into the series with Tuesday's 4-2 win, improving to 4-1 on the road in the 2018 playoffs. That capped a slick sequence of passes, from Nikita Kucherov to J.T. Miller, back to Kucherov, back to Miller, to Point, who found Stamkos. The Capitals went 2 for 7 in the first two games, while the Lightning scored twice on the power play in Game 3.

Following Killorn's goal, the Lightning held the Caps to just two shots for the rest of the game.

A home-team is likely going to win a game in this series and it will be a critical one.

The Capitals were much better at the outset of the second, recording the periods initial eight shots and making it 2-all when Kuznetsov took a flipped backhand pass from Ovechkin and put the puck between Vasilevskiys pads. Then the Lightning captain yelled "F-ing right!" and Point yelled "Let's F-ing go!" Washington has dropped two straight and the series is now tied at 2. In fact, they need to play better than they did in Game 4 if they want to close things out in Game 6. But it came just six seconds after Lars Eller was paroled from the penalty box after his second violation of the night. "Right now, it's the time of year you have to concentrate on the next game, the next shift".

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