Lightning slide past Capitals to even series
WASHINGTON — The Tampa Bay Lightning won Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals despite going the equivalent of more than a period without a shot on goal.
They won despite falling behind about 4½ minutes into the game.
They won despite being called for three penalties — one right after the other — late in the first period, allowing Alex Ovechkin and the rest of the Washington Capitals’ prolific power play to get all that time to operate.
And they did it, mainly, thanks to Andrei Vasilevskiy, who made 36 saves and kept things close until Alex Killorn scored the tiebreaker with 8:03 left, lifting Tampa Bay to a 4-2 victory over Washington on Thursday night to even the bestof-seven series at 2-2.
“When you don’t have your ‘A’ game, you need your goalie to have his ‘A’ game,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. “And he sure did.”
Now the Lightning will host Game 5 on Saturday night, with Game 6 in Washington on Monday.
The road team has won every game in the series so far.
“It’s pretty bizarre,” said Steven Stamkos, who took a puck to the face during the morning skate, then went out and scored a power-play goal that gave Tampa Bay a 2-1 lead in the first period. “We’ve got to find a way to win one at home.”
The Capitals might be thinking the same thing. After all, they fell to 3-5 in the nation’s capital this postseason, while they are 7-1 in away games.
On Thursday, they even got booed — yes, a smattering of jeers rang out in the team’s first conference final in 20 years — late in the first period after they failed to score on any of their three power plays.
That stretch was part of a chunk of nearly 21 full minutes of game time — the last 10:41 of the first period, followed by the initial 10:11 of the second — during which Tampa Bay did not put a shot on net.
“Our guys were gassed. That’s a lot of stress. Mental stress. The same guys are on the ice the whole time. Other guys aren’t playing,” Cooper said. “You kind of lose your whole rhythm.”
The go-ahead goal came thanks to a defensive breakdown, when Killorn was left pretty much alone and scored six seconds after a Tampa Bay power play expired, putting in a pass from Ondrej Palat.
“Tonight was so important,” Killorn said. “Going down 3-1 in a series is tremendously different from 2-2.”