Re­laxed ex­pan­sion-draft rules upped Ve­gas’ odds

Orlando Sentinel - - NBA / HORSE RACING / NHL -

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.

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