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Stanley Cup Daily 5/12: Shocking the Lightning

Caps fans who were worried about their team emptying the tank in the second round might not have so much to be concerned about after all.

Washington Capitals v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game One Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Each day during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Canes Country recaps the night before, previews the games for that night, and gives you game times and broadcast information.

Friday’s Recap

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Washington Capitals at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Capitals 4, Tampa Bay Lightning 2 (WAS leads series 1-0)

Riding high coming off their dethroning of the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Capitals took to the road, got off to the fast start they were hoping for and never looked back, skating out to a 4-0 lead and holding on for a tidy 4-2 win in Game 1.

Just under eight minutes into the game, a wrister from the point with eyes from Michal Kempny notched the first goal of the series, and set the foundation for the opening game. Then, just as the first period ended, a frenetic sequence that would ultimately play a huge role in the outcome of the game unfolded.

With the puck in the Lightning zone late in the period, the Bolts broke out with what appeared to be a perfect stretch pass and finish for Nikita Kucherov to tight the contest with only seven seconds left in the period. But the goal was not to be, as it was called back because Tampa had too many men on the ice; Kucherov was on the ice before Tyler Johnson was anywhere near the bench. On the ensuing power play, the Capitals won the faceoff and teed up Alex Ovechkin for his patented one-timer that stretched the lead to 2-0 in a dramatic turn of events.

The second period provided more of the same Caps dominance, and the tally grew to 4-0 after two periods with an early second period goal from Jay Beagle and yet another power play marker, this time from Lars Eller. In all, the Caps were able to control the play and outshoot the Bolts 25-10 through two periods.

The third period saw the Lightning show some signs of life, but it was far too little and too late with Steven Stamkos lighting the lamp on a power play and Ondrej Palat’s short side snipe past Braden Holtby. Even with the two goals in the third, the Lightning were simply unable to apply the constant offensive presence needed to win in a series of this importance. With just 21 shots on goal, the lack of offense is something that the high-powered Lightning will have to correct going forward.

For the Caps, taking Game 1 provides them with an opportunity to get greedy heading into Game 2 in Tampa. If they are able to bring home two wins from the Sunshine State, the expected frenzied crowd in DC will have even more to get excited about for Games 3 and 4.

Game 2 is slated for Sunday night in Tampa at 8 p.m. - Andy House

Saturday’s Preview

NHL: Vegas Golden Knights at Winnipeg Jets James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

(P1) Vegas Golden Knights at (C1) Winnipeg Jets

7:00 p.m. ET, NBC

  1. Narratives: It’s the overachievers against the underdogs. It’s no secret the Winnipeg Jets were a great team — but now, they are legit Stanley Cup contenders. Manitoba has Jets fever, and it will be a tough task for the Golden Knights to face the Jets and their always rambunctious crowd in Winnipeg to start the series. But that said, did anyone expect Vegas to be here? No one but themselves, apparently. The Knights are playing with extreme confidence as the underdogs and truly believe they can beat just about anyone. Facing offensive powerhouses like Patrik Laine and Mark Scheifele, the Golden Knights will face an uphill battle, but one they believe they are capable of overcoming.
  2. Goaltending Battle: It’s Marc-Andre Fleury vs. Connor Hellebuyck for a berth in the Stanley Cup Final. Fleury has turned back the clock, posting a .951 save percentage and a 1.53 goals against average in the playoffs to go along with four shutouts. Hellebuyck has a .920 save percentage and a 2.25 goals against average. Forwards beware, as this pair of netminders will most likely continue to play at the elite level they have through the first two rounds.
  3. Special Teams and Stats: Vegas has allowed the fewest goals per game in the playoffs, but the 7-0 win over the Sharks in Game 1 of the second round notwithstanding, they have seen some struggles offensively in their first ten games of the postseason. If Hellebuyck proves to be too much, the Knights could be in deep trouble. They won’t find comfort with the man advantage either as they’re scoring on just 17.5% of their chances. Winnipeg’s high flying offense, meanwhile has them sitting with 3.58 goals per game, just mere decimal points away from the top-ranked Washington Capitals. Scheifele has 11 goals and deadline addition Paul Stastny has 14 points in his longest playoff run yet. The Jets’ wealth of centers gives them an advantage in the faceoff dot, as they have won 49.3% of their draws. - Justin Lape