Light­ning sticks to what works

Tampa Bay Times - - Lightning - BY CALLIE CAPLAN Spe­cial to the Times

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As the Cap­i­tals worked through their fourth power play against the Light­ning Thurs­day night, Alex Ovechkin swiveled at the top of the zone, ap­pear­ing ready to drive, dish or shoot at any mo­ment.

The Light­ning, mean­while, didn’t ap­pear ready to counter.

Tyler Johnson had lost his stick dur­ing that sec­ond-pe­riod stand­off and was left to chal­lenge the long­time Washington star with just his body as de­fense.

But Johnson play­ing short- handed in equip­ment, and the Light­ning go­ing short­handed in num­ber, didn’t mat­ter. To com­ple­ment an of­fense that con­tin­ues strong power-play ex­e­cu­tion — and that scored the win­ning goal off a se­quence set up by a man-ad­van­tage — Tampa Bay’s penalty kill shined at Cap­i­tal One Arena for a 4-2 win.

“I just latched onto Ovi there,” Johnson said. “You’re just try­ing to eat shots if he’s shoot­ing it … You’ve got to do what­ever you can. Luck­ily for me, the other guys played it re­ally well, so we didn’t re­ally give much up when that hap­pened.”

The Cap­i­tals didn’t regis­ter a shot af­ter Johnson’s stick mal­func­tion, in­stead set­tling for a se­ries of passes be­fore Vic­tor Hed­man, in the box for trip­ping, re­turned to the ice.

Tampa Bay’ s man-down de­fense frustrated the Cap­i­tals — and their fans — early in the game, too. In the last nine min­utes of the first pe­riod, the Cap­i­tals drew three power plays.

Dur­ing the first for in­ter­fer­ence on Yanni Gourde, Tampa Bay faced the Cap­i­tals’ top power-play unit for the en­tire two min­utes.

About a minute af­ter that de­nial, ref­er­ees whis­tled Hed­man for slash­ing but the Cap­i­tals again couldn’t con­vert.

And by the time the Light­ning stopped the Cap­i­tals’ third power play, cour­tesy of a hook­ing call on Nikita Kucherov, with a few sec­onds left in the open­ing pe­riod, boos rang down.

In to­tal, Tampa Bay de­nied Washington’s nine shots on four power plays. De­spite the Cap­i­tals hold­ing a 38-20 shoot­ing ad­van­tage, An­drei Vasilevskiy made 36 saves, in­clud­ing sev­eral in the fi­nal min­utes.

Getty Im­ages

Tampa Bay’s Tyler Johnson faces off with Washington’s Alex Ovechkin with­out a stick dur­ing the sec­ond pe­riod.

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