Published: Sun, May 13, 2018
Sports | By Toni Houston

Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning, 5-13-2018 - Expert Prediction

Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning, 5-13-2018 - Expert Prediction

Instead of 1-1, the Capitals will take a 2-0 lead into intermission.

Evgeny Kuznetsov - The Capitals centre added two assists in Game One at Tampa Bay, giving him 16 points (7 G, 9 A) in 13 games.

And as has been the case throughout the postseason, the Capitals' power play has been on fire - scoring in 11 of their 13 games.

Almost seven minutes through the second, the Capitals scored its second power-play goal off an Eller rebound, taking a 4-0 lead. It went from 1-0 Caps to 1-1 to 2-0 Caps. The Capitals defeated the Lightning 4-2. Even that's a bit misleading as over half the Tampa Bay shots came when they were down 4-0 in the third.

Washington did a great job dictating pace through the first 40 minutes.

Tampa reached the Eastern Conference finals for a third time in four seasons and the fourth time since 2011. Only two garbage time goals by Tampa kept the game from getting completely out of hand.

"It was quick", Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. In Game 1, it was pretty simple. Can they keep it going in this one?

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It was a lackluster first period for the Lightning, which had not played since clinching their semifinal series with Boston on Sunday.

Washington dethroned the two-time defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins in six games to advance to the final four.

"By a mile", captain Steven Stamkos noted. Yet the final 10 seconds of the first period provided an early turning point. But the chance was created by Ovechkin, who shot a one-timer that deflected over to T.J. Oshie and then to Eller. If Eller can continue to win his battles, the Capitals might be able to pull off the upset even without Backstrom.

They had to sit there, knowing what had just happened, knowing it was an opportunity lost for them, an opportunity gained for the Capitals, knowing that the swing might have been the difference in the game, perhaps even the series. Just look at their second goal.

With seven seconds left in the first period, Ryan McDonagh sent a stretch pass to Nikita Kucherov which he caught and was able to score on. In years past, the Capitals wouldn't have been able to take advantage. The Lightning has gone 34-14 here at home for the year and they have averaged 3.52 gpg and have allowed 2.90 gpg in those games.

Goaltender Braden Holtby made 19 stops for Washington, facing a meager two shots in the first period from the lackluster Lightning team. "That's just execution. Right off the draw, we know what they're going to do, they're trying to get it to Ovechkin for a shot".

The NHL has not announced an official start date to the Stanley Cup Final, but a look at the conference final schedules allows an estimate of when the championship series is likely to start.

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