Photo Courtesy of Sporting News
The Lightning no-showed again at home as they will go back to Washington down 2-0. The Caps meanwhile are rolling right now.
By Chris Yackel
The Washington Capitals are a team that looks determined to go to a Stanley Cup Final. As for the Tampa Bay Lightning…not so much. Something just seems to be missing with the Lightning. The high powered offense of the Tampa Bay Lightning has been neutralized five on five to this point. Washington is playing a game that is structured well defensively, is disciplined and is determined. The Caps just seem to want it more than Tampa Bay after the first two games of this series and it was very evident in Game 2.
The Lightning left started right where they left off in the first period and got off to a terrible start. Tom Wilson deflected a Matt Niskanen shot just 28 seconds into the first to give Washington a 1-0 lead. This seemed for the moment to inspire the Lightning to say enough is enough. The Lightning all of sudden played much better after the goal. They eventually managed to get a power play goal by Brayden Point on a bad goalie interference call against Tom Wilson a little under seven minutes after surrendering the opening goal.
The Lightning then found themselves on the power play again after another wrong penalty on the Capitals. TJ Oshie was called for a high stick against Victor Hedman, but Oshie’s stick did not even hit Hedman’s face at all. A puck fluttering in the air did instead. The Lightning then took advantage of this missed call and made it 2-1 on a classic one-time goal from Steven Stamkos off a beautiful pass from Nikita Kucherov.
One would expect for the Capitals to whine and moan and yell at the refs the rest of the game after the missed calls. However, they did not. They stayed determined and kept playing a style that led to success. The second period would be all Washington, as they rattled off three goals to take a 4-2 lead heading into the third period. This absolutely stunned not just the Lightning fans in Tampa, but also the Lightning players in general.
The Lightning were unable to rebound as the Capitals were able to score two more in the third including an Alex Ovechkin goal to win 6-2. The Capitals dominated this period as well, as the Lightning just were emotionally and physically down and out.
What the Capitals have done in the first two games of this series has been truly remarkable. They have outplayed the Lightning badly in their own building outscoring them by a combined 10-4 in the first two games. They also were able to beat not only the Lightning in Game 2, but the refs.
The Caps overcame two power play goals by the Lightning that shouldn’t have been power plays at all. On top of all this, they’ve done it without their number one center and for my money the most underrated and underappreciated player in the game Nicklas Backstrom. The Capitals are in the driver’s seat right now as they don’t have to rush Backstrom back into the lineup with a 2-0 lead. They also bring this 2-0 lead back home to Washington.
For the Lightning, they just seem lost. They are not shooting the puck when they should and are overpassing way too much. This overpassing and reluctance to shoot lead to many Washington scoring chances and goals in the two games played. This overpassing was highlighted when J.T. Miller was on a 4-1 and instead of trying to take the open lane and shoot, he tried to pass.
The results were not pretty as Washington then took the puck up the ice on the Miller turnover and scored to tie it 2-2. It was clearly the turning point of the game. The Capitals controlled the game from that point forward.
Although the Lightning are down 2-0 in the series they are not finished. This Lightning team has a lot of veterans who are battled tested, playoff experienced and won’t go down without a fight. Tampa has too much skill and heart to be swept. Expect the Lightning to come out firing in Washington on Tuesday. Will they win Game 3? Only time will tell, but expect this next matchup to be much closer than the previous two.
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