The slick Swede has missed the past four games with a hand injury that didn't prevent him from signing a broom handed to him by Capitals fans anticipating a sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning prior to Game 3. As long as the Capitals win the shots on goal statistic decisively again, I expect the hosts to get the win and take a 3-1 series lead. Plenty of teams have done it. However, you would not guess that watching the Eastern Conference Finals. It was the way we played. Maybe the goal numbers are a shade unlucky, but when you're getting outchanced and outshot by that type of margin, it's usually indicative of something - a matchup issue, a personnel issue, a workmanship issue, and so on. "We weren't executing the way we normally did in the last couple of games".
The one thing Tampa Bay has been able to do very well against the Caps is score on the power play (5 for 12 in three games). "There's something to be said, too, (for) winning games on the road, when you can just kind of hear a pin drop in the crowd, sometimes, which is always a good thing".
The biggest key for Tampa Bay can come down to one thing: Momentum. His three goals and five points are the most on the team. Tampa Bay struggled in his absence and narrowly missed the playoffs, finishing with 94 points.
The next logical question is: What's driving this?
Washington's attempted 29.7 shots per game overall this season (ranked 31st in the NHL), and 30.6 over their last 10 outings. Even strength, especially during the 2017-18 season, was never a strong measure by territorial standards.
And as they have in other critical junctures of this postseason, the Lightning relied on their best players to rise to the occasion and rescue a series that had been firmly in their opponents' grasp.
Backstrom playing for Capitals in Game 4 against Lightning
- The Lightning's stars finally shone. As you might suspect, most Lightning skaters are down. That's what Tampa Bay is looking at right now.
The Capitals have converted on 24.0 percent of their power play chances this season, a figure that's good enough for seventh-best in the league.
These are the players paid to make a difference. "Maybe they play a little different".
The issue here is the fact that only four guys are breaking even by scoring chance measures, three of which really aren't players of material. Chris Kunitz is seeing only marginally more ice. The Capitals hope to have him back centring the team's second line with T.J.
"For whatever reason, at this time of the year there are more distractions than in the regular season, for sure". If you give these types of playmakers and shooters extra offensive zone time you're asking to be burned. "It's pretty much been the same playing them".
If both teams can finally show up on the ice at the same time this series, we've got the potential for a barnburner in Game 4.