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Stanley Cup Daily 5/18: The Washington Milkshake Ducks

We regret to inform you that the Caps are, once again, Capsing.

Tampa Bay Lightning v Washington Capitals - Game Four Photo by Patrick Smith/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.


Thursday’s Recap

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Tampa Bay Lightning at Washington Capitals Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Lightning 4, Washington Capitals 2 (Series tied 2-2)

Andrei Vasilevskiy.

That name alone was the story in Game 4. In making 36 saves, many of the spectacular variety, Vasilevskiy enabled the Lightning to hang around, even while they were getting massively outshot, and eventually steal the crucial Game 4 away from the home-standing Capitals.

In fact, during the two games in Washington, the Capitals outshot the Lightning 76-43 over the two games, but still the Lightning came away with the crucial two victories they needed to wrestle momentum entirely away from the Capitals. Most of that credit can be centered on Vasilevskiy, who has clearly elevated his play when the Bolts needed him most.

The Capitals actually got the scoring started in Game 4, as Dmitry Orlov wired one over Vasilevskiy’s left shoulder to open the scoring. Before the goal could even be announced, however, the Lightning responded with a tally from Brayden Point after a terrible defensive zone turnover from Michal Kempny. Later in the first period, the Lightning went to the power play and Steven Stamkos picked up where he left off on the man advantage by slapping a rockey past Braden Holtby from in close to make the score 2-1.

In the second period, the Caps utterly dominated play, outshooting the Bolts 14-6, but were only able to notch one goal on a terrific neutral zone feed from Alex Ovechkin to spring Evgeny Kuznetsov in on Vasilevskiy. He found the five-hole and evened the score at 2-2.

As the game wore on into the third period, the Caps continued to keep the pressure on, but around the mid-point of the period, the Lightning seemed to get their legs back. After sustaining some pressure and drawing a hooking penalty from Lars Eller, the Lightning were unable to convert on the power play, but as play continued in their zone uninterrupted, Alex Killorn received a pass from behind the net by Ondrej Palat which he was able to squeak through Holtby for what proved to be the game winner.

The Capitals were unable to sustain offense in an effort to tie the game until they pulled Holtby around the two minute mark. After hemming the Lightning in, they missed several backdoor chances to tie the game until Anthony Cirelli was able to exit the zone and deposit the puck in the empty net with two seconds remaining to finish up the scoring at 4-2.

The series now shifts back to Tampa for a massive Game 5. Can Tampa continue their momentum and push the Caps to the brink of elimination on home ice? Can Washington again steal a win in Florida and come back to D.C. with a chance for redemption and an opportunity to close out the Bolts? We will find out on Saturday night. - Andy House


Friday’s Preview

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Winnipeg Jets at Vegas Golden Knights Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Winnipeg Jets vs. Vegas Golden Knights (VGK leads series 2-1)

8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN

  1. The Top of the Depth Chart: The Golden Knights are a team built on depth, but don’t tell that to their top forward line of William Karlsson, Reilly Smith, and Jonathan Marchessault. That trio has led the way for the expansion club, combining for 43 points in 13 postseason games. On the other side, Winnipeg’s top-six has been phenomenal at points, but perhaps the biggest surprise has been trade deadline acquisition Paul Stastny, who has elevated his game to an elite level this postseason with his point per game scoring rate. Mark Scheifele’s 14 goals and 20 points have been an extremely impressive feat as well.
  2. Buyck and Fleury: The goalie matchup will, yet again, be the biggest thing to watch tonight. Seemingly every night, one of these goalies have risen above and stolen a game. Connor Hellebuyck was that guy in game one, but Marc-Andre Fleury has been otherworldly over the past two games, bringing his save percentage up to .945 this postseason.
  3. Ice Tilt: In game one, it seemed like everything was going Winnipeg’s way, but Games 2 and 3 have served as an example of just how good the Knights are, and perhaps how tired the Jets are. Winnipeg went the distance against a tough Nashville team and went right into this series against the well-rested Golden Knights. That rest has been valuable so far, and with home ice advantage in Game 4, another win could put them in prime position to put a quick end to yet another series and enter the Stanley Cup final with an upper hand on the survivor of the Tampa-Washington series that could, very easily, go the distance. - Brett Finger