Light­ning snaps back vs. Cap­i­tals to avoid 0-3 hole

Hed­man’s scor­ing, penalty kills help Tampa Bay top Wash­ing­ton

Albuquerque Journal - - SCOREBOARD -

WASH­ING­TON — Victor Hed­man scored his first goal of the play­offs and added two as­sists, and An­drei Vasilevskiy made 36 saves to help the Tampa Bay Light­ning beat the Wash­ing­ton Cap­i­tals 4-2 in Game 3 of the East­ern Con­fer­ence fi­nals Tues­day night and cut its series deficit to 2-1.

Hed­man had the pri­mary as­sist on power-play goals by Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov, and he was a key part of three big penalty kills that gave Tampa Bay some much-needed mo­men­tum. De­ter­mined to cre­ate the kind of shift he thought could turn the East fi­nal around af­ter back-to-back home losses, the Nor­ris Tro­phy fi­nal­ist as the NHL’s top de­fense­man was one of the most dom­i­nant play­ers on the ice and ex­tended his point streak to eight games

“I’m put in a po­si­tion to pro­duce, and I put that pres­sure on my­self to do it,” said Hed­man, who has a goal and 10 as­sists dur­ing an eight-game point streak. “For me, it’s about be­ing ef­fec­tive at all ends of the ice and try­ing to be a dif­fer­ence-maker ev­ery time I step on it.”

Crit­i­cized for his play in the first two games against Wash­ing­ton, Vasilevskiy was on top of his game as the Cap­i­tals put 38 shots on net. Vasilevskiy made seven saves on the penalty kill alone to save a be­lea­guered unit that came in ranked 13th out of 16 play­off teams.

The Light­ning would still like to cut down on the qual­ity chances Vasilevskiy has to stop in Game 4 on Thurs­day and be­yond, like the one Brett Con­nolly scored on af­ter a turnover by On­drej Palat. They also sur­ren­dered a 6-on-5 goal to Evgeny Kuznetsov with 3:02 left that made things in­ter­est­ing in the fi­nal min­utes.

But the of­fen­sive depth that helped them get through the first two rounds in five games apiece re­turned with Hed­man and Bray­den Point scor­ing just Tampa Bay’s se­cond and third even-strength goals in the series. Hed­man now has a goal and 10 as­sists dur­ing his point streak.

Tampa Bay got two in­jury scares in the third pe­riod when Stamkos hob­bled off af­ter tak­ing a slap shot from team­mate Bray­don Coburn in the right knee and Tyler John­son was cross-checked by Michal Kempny. Stamkos and John­son each re­turned min­utes later to a game that in­cluded nas­ti­ness af­ter whis­tles through­out.

Cap­i­tals goal­tender Braden Holtby al­lowed four goals on 23 shots, though power-play one-timers by Stamkos and Kucherov were al­most im­pos­si­ble to stop. The Light­ning ex­tended its streak of con­sec­u­tive games with a power-play goal to seven.

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