Both teams entered the game red-hot on the power play, and the Lightning's risky extra-man unit continued its terrorizing ways. But Tuesday was a different story.
Backstrom blocked a shot by Penguins defenseman Justin Schultz in Game 5 of their semifinal series, and has worn a brace on his hand since then.
By the time Kuznetsov scored, Vasilevskiy had already stopped Washington star Alex Ovechkin, who had two goals and two assists in the first two games of this series, several times in the final period.
"They're your top players because to get to this point you need to make sure you have 97-plus points during an 82-game season, and those guys were a big reason that we got to that point", said Lightning head coach Jon Cooper. "We talked about this, you've got to make them chase the game". The starting time for each Capitals home game was pushed back an hour to 8 PM, increasing the likelihood that the final horn would blow after Metro closed its doors at 11:30 PM. "We believe in ourselves and in this group", Tampa Bay's Victor Hedman told the team's website.
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In the first two games, Washington scored goals in the waning seconds of a period in each contest. Nikita Kucherov blasted the puck past Capitals goalie Braden Holtby at 1:50 of the second period, reversing a trend of poor starts from the previous two games.
"It took a lot of flow out of our game", Trotz said. "A great player for us all year, but you got two world-class centermen in front of him".
4 on 3 for the Bolts. Eller took his third of the night when he cross-checked Steven Stamkos, but Stamkos was sent off at the same time for roughing Eller in a tussle after the play.
A late goal in the second period from Brett Connolly and another from Evgeny Kuznetsov in the third made it interesting. Point and Kucherov also posted helpers and Hedman added a pair of assists while Tampa Bay received 36 saves from Andrei Vasilevskiy who improved to 9-4-0.
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Washington didn't have much of the magic they found in abundance in Tampa, although their possession numbers showed they controlled the majority of the shot share. The Lightning got their road game.
William Karlsson scored a power-play goal late in the second to cut the lead to two again, but Winnipeg shut down the Golden Knights from there to finish off the 4-2 win. They will set out to show the home crowd that Tuesday's special teams shortcomings were an aberration.
"We haven't done anything yet", said Stamkos.
But in the first 20 minutes on this must-win night for Tampa, Kucherov was worse than invisible.
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