Special teams failures took Capitals' teeth away in Game 3


The Lightning would still like to cut down on the quality chances Vasilevskiy will face in Game 4 on Thursday and beyond, like the one Brett Connolly scored on after a turnover by Ondrej Palat.

Both teams back to full strength. Thank Kucherov on the power play for that one! Their defensively responsible game has been quite easy for the Capitals to shut-down, so tonight I expect them to revert to their run and gun ways in order to beat the trap.

After finishing third in the regular season (23.9 percent) behind the Pittsburgh Penguins (26.2) and Toronto Maple Leafs (25.0), they are 15-for-50 (30.0) on the power play in 13 playoff games, third behind the Boston Bruins (36.4) and Capitals (30.8). And ill-timed penalties late in periods have led directly to Capitals power-play goals, which can't continue happening if the Lightning want to make this a series.

It wasn't flawless, but it was a more complete effort from Tampa Bay, which jumped out to a 3-0 lead before Brett Connolly answered for Washington in the second.

"A big thing for us, and I think it's worked I guess in the three games, is the team that really gets the lead is the team that's in the driver's seat", Cooper said. "Maybe they play a little different". Kucherov finished the game with an even rating and a team-high six shots on goal in 16:20 of ice time.

Backstrom participated in the morning skate on Tuesday and before a 6-2, Game 2 win at Tampa Bay on Sunday.

Each goal came on a one-timer, Stamkos scoring from the left face-off circle and Kucherov from the right. Coach Barry Trotz said Backstrom was a game-time decision before each of the games in the conference final. The Lightning power play is now 5 for 12 in the series.

Now, the series shifts to Capital One Arena, where Washington is just 3-3 this postseason.

The Lightning had four All-Stars this season with Stamkos joined by right-wing Nikita Kucherov, defenseman Victor Hedman, and goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, and all four combined to hand the Lightning a dominant 3-0 lead early in the second period.