Relaxed expansion-draft rules upped Vegas’ odds
WASHINGTON — Alex Killorn scored the tiebreaker with 8 minutes, 3 seconds left, Andrei Vasilevskiy made 36 saves and the Lightning weathered the equivalent of more than a period without a shot on goal to edge the Capitals 4-2 on Thursday night, tying the Eastern Conference final at two games apiece.
Killorn was left nearly alone during a defensive breakdown by the Caps and scored six seconds after a Lightning power play expired, converting a pass from Ondrej Palat.
Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point scored the Lightning’s first two goals, and Anthony Cirelli added an empty-netter.
The Capitals’ goals came from Evgeny Kuznetsov, off an assist by Alex Ovechkin, and defenseman Dmitry Orlov. Kuznetsov has 21 points — 10 goals and 11 assists — and is tied with Ovechkin (2009) for the most by a Capitals player in a single postseason.
The Lightning host Game 5 on Saturday night, with Game 6 back in Washington on Monday.
The road team has won every game in the series so far.
The Capitals, who eliminated the two-time Stanley Cup champion Penguins in the second round, fell to 3-5 at home during these playoffs — and even got booed late in the first period, which ended with the Lightning ahead 2-1.
The Lightning won Game 4 despite going the last 10:41 of the first period followed by the initial 10:11 of the second without putting a single shot on net. And they won even though the Capitals finally got back center Nicklas Backstrom, who was third on the team in points behind Ovechkin and Kuznetsov. Backstrom had missed four games with an injured right hand.
One key: Vasilevskiy played just like the Vezina Trophy finalist he is. He was spectacular at times, including stops against Chandler Stephenson on a breakaway and Backstrom from the doorstep in the second period. Early in the third, Vasilevskiy used his left glove to swat away a try from Brett Connolly.
Capitals goalie Braden Holtby didn’t need to make nearly as many saves, given the shot discrepancy: The Caps ended up with 38 shots to the Lightning’s 20.
The Lightning have produced 11 power-play goals over their last nine games, with at least one in each contest.
And it has been Stamkos leading the way: He has scored on a power play in each game of this series.
The game was barely 81⁄2 minutes old, and the Lightning had accumulated only five shots. But they already had scored twice and silenced a boisterous, red-clad crowd that went from supportive chants of “Let's go, Caps!” before the game to a nervous hush to a smattering of groans and jeers in the closing seconds of the opening period.
Those boos arrived after the Capitals failed to score on any of a succession of three power-play opportunities.