It was do or die for the Tampa Bay Lightning in their game three Eastern Conference Final matchup at Washington against the Capitals. Despite being top seed and holding home ice in the firs two games the Lighting were down two games to none. Washington’s Capital One Arena was electric with anticipation. Finally, the Capitals were done choking and were ready to make the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 20 years. But then reality hit. Tampa Bay showed the character and ability that made them the best team in the Eastern Conference for the regular season. And now the Lighting can even the series at two games each with a win in game four on Thursday night.
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Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Washington Capitals Game 4
Date and Time: Thursday, May 17, 2018, 8 p.m. ET
Location: Capital One Arena, Washington, DC
NHL Odds at Betcris: Check Back Later
Lightning vs. Capitals TV Coverage: NBCSN
Tampa Bay scored a 4-2 win at Washington in game three. The Capitals now lead the series 2-1. Game five will be at Tampa Bay on Saturday night. Game six, if necessary, will be at Washington. Tampa Bay would host a game seven if needed.
Washington center Niklas Backstrom is questionable for game four. He has missed the first three games of this series with a hand injury. Backstrom’s absence is a potentially deep blow to the Caps. So far in the playoffs he has three goals and ten assists in 11 games. During the regular season Backstrom had 21 goals and 50 assists with a plus five. That included seven goals and 19 assists on the power play. Washington could be worn down without him. Backstrom brings too much offensive that cannot be compensated for if he is out.
Washington netminder Braden Holtby began the playoffs on the bench but bailed the Capitals out and saved their season after they fell behind Columbus 2-0 in the first round. Holtby has a playoff save percentage of .921 but had a poor game three performance. In the game three loss Holtby allowed four goals on 23 shots.
Andrei Vasilevskiy was a big reason for Tampa Bay’s losses in the first two games on their home ice. But when needed most he responded with a clutch performance in game three. Vasilevskiy stopped 36 out of 38 shots to post the win for the Lightning. So far in post season he has a save percentage of .915.
NHL Players to Watch
Tampa Bay center and captain Steven Stamkos looms large for this series. In the critical game three win Stamkos had a goal and assist with a plus one. Stammer has posted six goals with nine assists and a plus one so far in the playoffs. Right winger Nikita Kucherov has a team best seven goals to go with nine assists. Center Brayden Point has six goals and eight assists in the playoffs. The Lightning boast two excellent defensemen in Victor Hedman and Ryan McDonagh. Hedman leads the team with 10 assists this post season.
For Washington all eyes will of course be on Alex Ovechkin. “The Great Eight” has posted 10 goals and nine assists with a plus five so far in the playoffs. He has never made it this far in post season. Ovechkin has added four goals and five assists in the playoffs. Washington center Evgeny Kuznetsov has added nine goals and 11 assists so far in post season.
Lightning vs. Capitals Free Picks
Washington may have been guilty of reading their own headlines in game three. They should be far better prepared for game four. If any year is theirs this figures to be it.
Lightning vs. Capitals Pick: Bet the Washington Capitals money line
Lightning vs. Capitals Score Prediction: Capitals 3, Lightning 2
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