Caps in Tampa: Episode 5

These two evenly matched teams in a tied series should provide excitement and energy in a tight matchup creating an –

Scores. Paquette out wills Kuznetsov in the neutral zone, Callahan makes a desperate pass which hits the skate of a Capital defender and bounces right to a streaking Paquette who takes the first shot of the game and puts it by Holtby. 1-0 Tampa only 19 seconds into the game. Oh boy.

At about the 9 minute mark Orlov turns the puck over in the neutral zone and Kucherov hunts it down, passes it to Palat who is collapsing into the slot, a snap shot that beats Holtby for a two goal lead. It was all Tampa, all period.

Washington had three shots through the entire period (edit: they were at some point credited with a fourth but I didn’t see it or notice a chance). Their third shot came with around half a minute left. When the puck was in the Lightning zone it was pinned to the boards, turned over and passed out of the zone to safety. This didn’t look like game four when Washington peppered Vasilevskiy to no avail, this looked like Tampa in complete and utter control.

Washington really needs to come out strong in the second and – scores. 3-0. 31 seconds in. Stralman skates down the boards to the right of Holtby, throws the puck out front, follows it and smacks it at Holtby, it bounces into the air then it goes off Callahan and in the net. What were Kempny and Niskanen doing? Not covering anyone? It bounced in off Callahan’s hand and they reviewed it, but he didn’t intentionally knock it in, so it stayed a goal. “HOLLLLTBBYYY HOLLLLTBYYY” – entire Amalie arena.

4:21 into the period we see some push back. Niskanen retrieves the puck off the boards in the zone, skates backwards to the middle along the point and takes a shot. The shot is tipped by Kuznetsov and sees the back of the net. The Caps needed this one, if they went down 4-0 it would be over. They already looked demoralized, they really needed some response and they created it.

And the rest of the period belonged to Washington. Not as dominant as Tampa in the first but definitely outshot and out chances the Lightning. Only problem? Only one goal to show for it, and still in a two goal hole.

The third period had a lot of Washington pressure but they looked pretty bad in the neutral zone, turnovers and soft pressure resulting in difficulty getting it in the Bolts zone and getting set up. Ovie did fire a rocket from the left of Vasy that hit the crossbar and out. So close to 3-2. Kuznetsov was the best player for the Caps, and he was seeing some double shifts.

With a few minutes left, Cirelli is hound dogging the puck in the Caps end, just preventing breakouts. He kills a good 20-30 seconds, which is the kind of play they needed.

It had to happen eventually, but Ovie finally buries one. He’s had his chances it just wasn’t going in. With Holtby on the bench, Eller back to Carlson at the point, over to Ovie in his office and a snipe with 1:36 left and it’s 3-2.

Ovechkin is playing the point for a bit in the last 92 seconds and his stance is hilarious. Two hands on the stick, stick not on the ice, they’re blocking the pass to him but he’s taking a man out of the play by doing so.

Madness in the last minute. One big save from Vasy on Carlson, and a blocked shot in the last three seconds. Tampa wins and makes it a must win game for Washington at home on Monday. If only Ovie had scored on that crossbar…

– Bob Zagozewski

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