The start of the series between Tampa Bay Lightning and the Washington Capitals did not look promising for Lightning. Now, it doesn’t look promising for the Capitals.
After losing Games 1 and 2, things looked bleak for Tampa, that was until Game 3 when it became Tampa’s series in what saw most calling them the underdog winning Game 3, Game 4 and last night, taking the lead in the series after defeating the Washington Capitals 3-2 in Game 5.
The Lightning are one win away from returning to the Stanley Cup finals, but for Coach Jon Cooper, accomplishing that task will not be easy against the Washington Capitals saying that they have yet to win anything yet adding,
“Let’s be honest, you’ve got to get four, not three.”
Only 18 seconds into the first period Ryan Callahan nudged the puck in front of the net to a waiting Cedric Paquette who sent a wrist shot past Braden Holtby to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead.
After a turnaround at center ice, by Stamkos, a pass sent to Ondrej Palat saw the Lightning make it 2-0 less than halfway through the first. Tampa’s third goal of the night came from the stick of Ryan Callahan and also scored for Tampa last night in front of a sold out home crowd.
If Tampa Bay is successful winning in Game 6 or 7, it will be the second time in four years that they have gone to the Stanley Cup finals. For Washington, this is their first time playing Conference final and after giving up a two game lead and now behind in the series, it could be the end of the road for them this season unless they win the next two games.
Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin each scored one for the Capitals with John Carlson, Lars Eller, Matt Niskanen and T.J. Oshie earning one assist each. Game 6 will be held in Washington on Monday night, and considering Tampa is 5-1 when on the road in the post-season, the Capitals, who are facing elimination, will have to be on top of their game.
Ryan Callahan, right wing for the Lightning, speaking about the series said,
“We have a lot of unfinished business. This isn’t even close to being over. This last game’s definitely the hardest against a very, very good Washington team. To go in their building and try to close it out is going to be tough.”
Washington feels confident in their Game 5 performance and believe they have the ability to force game 7. The Capitals were encouraged by the way they finished the game and are confident they can force the series back to Tampa for Game 7.
Capitals coach, Barry Trotz stated,
“This group has got its backs against the wall, and this group has responded all year,” coach Barry Trotz said. “I don’t expect anything different.”
Washington won the first two games in the series and with ten goals scored against Vasilevskiy it put the Lightning, who were top of the east in the regular season, on the defence going into game 3.
They responded despite the aggressive and hard-hitting Capitals, and then went on to win the next two games at home. The Capitals pushed hard to shorten the gap last night scoring late in the third with a minute left but were unable to tie in the final minute of the game.
Ovechkin said he was not frustrated, but felt bad losing the game adding,
“We just had a bad start. We didn’t handle the puck in the neutral zone. They got a lucky bounce and put in the first goal. That gave them momentum.”
T.J. Oshie, who plays right wing for the Capitals added that he was disappointed as he felt the team played the second and third periods well.
” We showed a lot of character. Character doesn’t always win you games, but I think it’s going to be important to have that feeling going into Game 6 at home.”