The Washington Capitals overcame a 2-1 deficit by scoring three goals in the second period & added two more in the third period to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-2 on Sunday night at Amalie Arena. The Capitals win means they return home for Game 3 with a 2-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Already leading the series 1-0 & winning a game on the road, Washington struck first & early when, with traffic in front of the Lightning net, Capitals Defenseman Matt Niskanen took a shot from the point that was redirected by Forward Tom Wilson past Lightning netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy for the first goal of the game.
The one goal deficit seemed to wake up Tampa Bay, who in the following 90 seconds got good scoring chances from their top lines. And the momentum stayed with the Lightning when the Capitals took an ill-advised penalty in their own offensive zone. While the Capitals were applying pressure on Vasilevskiy, Wilson got too close to the net & interfered with the Lightning netminder, resulting in a two minute penalty. And the Lightning cashed in when just 20 seconds into the man advantage, Lightning Center Brayden Point grabbed a loose puck between the face-off circles & snapped a shot past Capital Goalie Braden Holtby, tying the score at one.
With the score now tied at one & both teams physical play picking up, Tampa Bay caught a break when Defenseman Victor Hedman & Capitals Forward T.J. Oshie got tangled up following a puck that was in the air. In the midst of their battle for the puck while it was in the air, Hedman was hit in the face. But the referee called a penalty on Oshie for high-sticking, thinking Hedman was hit by his stick, when it was actually the puck. And Hedman sell job of the high-stick didn't hurt. And it may have taking over a minute into the power play but the Lightning moved the puck & were able to find Lightning Center Steven Stamkos inside the left circle. And the Lightning captain blasted a one-timer past Holtby for his fifth goal of the playoffs.
Tampa Bay outshot the visitors 13-10 & went two for two on the power play in the first period. But less than three minutes into the second period the game was tied after Washington converted on a two on one break with Forward Devante Smith-Pelly taking a feed & beating Vasilevskiy to his right. And after Lightning Center Yanni Gourde took a hooking penalty, it looked like the Capitals were primed to take the lead again. But Vasilevskiy made a couple key saves during the visitors' power play including robbing Evgeny Kuznetsov, when the Capitals center broke into the Lightning zone, to the left of the netminder.
Washington didn't take advantage of that power play but after killing off a penalty, the visitors did take the lead again when the Lightning Defenseman Anton Stralman fell behind his own net & Capitals Forward Jakub Vrana picked up the loose pick & fed Center Lars Eller who was in front of the net & beat Vasilevskiy. And before the three on visitor side of the scoreboard got hot, the Capitals made it a two goal lead before the second period ended. After Vasilevskiy was called for tripping, the Capitals worked some power play magic with Kuznetsov camped in front of the net & stuffing a shot past the Lightning goalie with just three seconds left in the period.
Facing a two goal deficit & the potential of trailing in the series 2-0, Tampa Bay started the third period applying pressure in the Washington zone. But some of the chances led to their defensemen pinching leading to odd man rushes. And three minutes into the third period, the Capitals were able to make good on a two on one rush with Ovechkin taking a pass from Kuznetsov & wristing a shot past Vasilevskiy for his 10th goal of the playoffs.
The Capitals added their sixth goal on a shot by Forward Brett Connolly, who one-timed a puck, that was on its edge, high past Vasilevsky.
Tampa Bay will look to get a game on the road & win their first of the series when the two teams face-off for Game 3 in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday. Coverage begins on 970 WFLA at 7pm with the puck drop at 8pm.
1. WAS- Wilson 3rd Goal (Niskanen, Kuznetsov)- 00:28
2. TBL- PPG- Point 5th Goal (Stamkos, Hedman)- 07:08
3. TBL- PPG- Stamkos 5th Goal (Kucherov, Point)- 10:22
1. WAS- Smith-Pelly 3rd Goal (Chiasson, Carlson)- 02:50
2. WAS- Eller 5th Goal (Vrana)- 18:58
3. WAS- PPG- Kuznetsov 8 Goal (Ovechkin, Eller)- 19:57
1. WAS- Ovechkin 10th Goal (Kuznetsov, Wilson)- 03:34
2. WAS- Connolly 3rd Goal (Eller, Carlson)- 12:57
1. WAS- Wilson (Interference)- 06:48
2. WAS- Oshe (High-Sticking)- 08:26
3. TBL- Kunitz ( Roughing)- 12:06
4. WAS- Orpik (Roughing)- 12:06
1. WAS- Beagle (Roughing)- 06:33
2. TBL- Paquette (Roughing)- 06:33
3. TBL- Gourde (Hooking)- 11:47
4. WAS- Kempny (Interference)- 15:48
5. TBL- Vasilevskiy (Tripping)- 19:50
1. WAS- Kempny (Cross-Checking)- 06:55
2. TBL- Killorn (Roughing)- 13:09
3. WAS- Connolly (Cross-Checking)- 13:09
4. TBL- Kucherov (Unsportsmanlike Conduct)- 19:03