Published: Tue, May 15, 2018
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

NHL Playoffs: Capitals Trounce Lightning to Build 2-0 Series Lead

NHL Playoffs: Capitals Trounce Lightning to Build 2-0 Series Lead

No one was willing to put his neck on the line. The Caps won game-two by a score of 6-2 and now have a 2-0 lead in the series. Nobody goes 16-0 in the playoffs.

"Just mental breakdowns, mental mistakes by Tampa Bay". When it's not, I think everybody's down. "We'll be all right". The Lightning has not played well in this series the last few years, but I feel they will be able to steal this one in the Nation's Capital and the clincher is the fact that the Bolts have gone 4-1 in their last five games following a loss of three or more goals. But Washington made sure its own effort and intensity was at least on a par with that of Tampa Bay.

How did they plan on doing that?

"We're getting away from what has made us successful in the past", Stamkos said.

I asked him if this is a superstition or something he just enjoys.

"We're off to a heck of a start, but we've got to take care of business at home", defenseman Matt Niskanen said. There's a really good group of guys there. "They've got a ton of experience and when their backs have been against the wall, they've shown a propensity to fight back". This is a tough one. "When you're at home and you drop the first two, it's disappointing". But we're not done. "Like, let's get Game 3 going here.' So that was good to see".

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Those contributions include the timeliness of his scoring - he had a hand in three game winners in the series against the Pittsburgh Penguins and two backbreakers against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the conference finals - to the buy-in on defensive commitment that has permeated the entire lineup.

Since their last home game - a 6-3 win over the Pens in Game 5 of the second round on May 5 - the Caps have reeled off three straight victories on the road.

"You're going to see their absolute best effort tomorrow night", Trotz said of the Lightning, "so we've got to come with our best effort". After 82 games they had lit the lamp 290 times - an average of 3.54 goals per game - which is the highest total the National Hockey League has seen since the 2009-10 Washington Capitals.

Stamkos' fourth goal in five games gave Tampa Bay its first lead of the series. The Capitals expected the Lightning to have a pushback in Game 2, and it did.

"We won Game 3 in overtime in Columbus", Trotz notes. This team is totally rolling right now, but they have gone just 3-3 in their five postseason home games so far.

"For us, it's about looking at ourselves, looking at our game plan, and looking at our video of what we can change to eliminate that".

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As we've discussed in this space before, Alex Ovechkin has been unfairly maligned as a playoff performer throughout his career.

Jon Cooper walked into the locker room and didn't get the sense Lightning players were down in the dumps about losing the first two games of the Eastern Conference final. Six have come in the past four games.

Ovechkin did his media availability before Games 1 and 2 in the same place, just outside the rink near a VIP dining area.

"Vasi is our guy", Cooper said.

The Washington Capitals fans are always anxious come playoff time, as they have underwhelmed year after year and have never been able to get past the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"He's a Vezina finalist for a reason", Lightning defenceman Dan Girardi said.

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He is playing alongside Ovechkin as they both continue to climb to the top of the playoff scoring leaderboard. He can't save them all. So the second time, someone moved the stool out of the way for him, because he obviously didn't need it.

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