Lightning Defeat Capitals 3-2 In Shootout

Bolts Come Out On Top In Playoff Intensity Game

(Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)

Nikita Kucherov and Mitchell Stephens scored for the Lightning in regulation and Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 31-of-33 shots as the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Washington Capitals 3-2 in a shootout.

Brayden Point (round 2) and Nikita Kucherov (round 3) scored the Lightnings goals in the shootout while Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped both Evgeny Kuznetsov (round 2) and Nicklas Backstrom (round 3).

“Happy with the win, happy with a lot of things that happened in this game. It’s unfortunate we had a two goal lead and let it slide in a couple minute span but there a lot of good things to build off.” Coach Jon Cooper said after the game. “I think both teams played hard we have a little rivalry because we have played each other in the playoffs as recent as a couple of years ago but, again, both teams have more in them.

Richard Panik and Evgeny Kuznetsov scored in the span of just over two minutes to close the second period and draw the Capitls even in the game. Braden Holtby stopped 26-of-28 shots.

The game was a very physical contest and had the feel of a playoff game. “I think this was a good test for us playing against a great team like Patty said [Pat Maroon] we showed a lot of character today. ” Victor Hedman said. “We obviously didn’t get any power plays but at the same time I think we gutted this one out.”

The Lighting showed a lot of mental toughness, something they may not have done in other years and something that Coach Cooper said will have to be done during the playoffs. “You got to look the other team in the eye, maybe in previous years we haven’t done that as well as we should have.” …. “It’s a mans game when you get to the playoffs and the confidence of our group and the ‘no back down attitude’ is definitely something we’ve noticed. It was there no question tonight against what I consider one of the best teams in this league.”

The fact that the game ended in a shootout didn’t detract from the victory and the feel of it being a playoff contest. “It felt like a playoff game out there.” Yanni Gourde said. “There was a lot of hitting, a lot of intensity, it was a high checking game and it really felt like a playoff game out there honestly. Ending in shootout is a little bit different but I felt like out there was playoff.”

The Lightning won’t back down and tonight’s contest revealed that they too will be physical. “We are very united as a team.” Gourde said. “I think every time there was a scrum tonight there were five of our guys in there. We are ready to play some playoff hockey. We are a very tight group and it shows on the ice and I’m excited for the next few games and the outcome of the playoffs, it’s going to be fun.”

The Lightning will now take on the Boston Bruins on Wednesday while the Capitals will take on the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday. Currently, the Lightning own two points in round robin play and are tied with Philadelphia atop the Eastern Conference round robin standings with all four teams – Tampa Bay (2 pts.), Philadelphia (2 pts.), Washington (1 pt.) and Boston (0 pts.) — having played one game.