NHL Playoffs: Capitals Trounce Lightning to Build 2-0 Series Lead

The Washington Capitals finally knocked off the Pittsburgh Penguins and are one step from the Stanley Cup finals

Just like that, they're in a full-on sprint toward the finish.

The Capitals, in the conference finals for the first time in the Ovechkin era, said they can't afford a drop-off in performance. "It's hard to play flawless hockey all the way through". "There were so many good things we've done in two rounds of hockey that I think if you bottled up all the bad things in those first 10 games it would be about half of what we did in that one game last night". Since 1974-75, teams that take a 2-0 lead in the conference final or semifinal have a series record of 39-2 (95.1 percent).

"It's all about the power plays", Kuznetsov said. "We have that opportunity". Devante Smith-Pelly and Brett Connolly scored the Capitals' other goals. It's their first visit to the conference final during Ovechkin's 13-season career. We've gone through some stuff this year early in the playoffs, and we've learned from it.

The difference will be if the Capitals get comfortable with this lead, or if they keep on digging. The Capitals are 3-3 at home this postseason. Especially after the Boston Bruins beat them in Game 1 in the previous round and they proceeded to win the next four games. It's very uncharacteristic of us. The best sign for the Lightning in all of this was how the first line of Johnson, Stamkos and Kucherov were able to get their scoring chances, and bury them. They got their first power play of the night, and while they didn't score, they controlled the game from that point.

"We're here for a reason".

For the second straight game, Eller was a possession monster against the Lightning. Almost three minutes into the second period, Alex Chiasson and Devante Smith-Pelly broke free for a 2-on-1, and Smith-Pelly drilled the tying score to make it 2-2.

Eller scored the go-ahead goal with 1:02 remaining in the second period.

Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy was called for tripping Washington's Andre Burakovsky with 10 seconds left in the period.

Game 3 on Tuesday night in Washington can't come soon enough for the Lightning, who are in a historically hard spot after losing twice at home to open the series.

Ovechkin and Connolly finished the rout with third-period goals.

Capitals goalie Braden Holtby made 33 saves. "We've got to go out there and win games on the road, and we've done that in the playoffs and we've got to do it again".

Early in the third, the Capitals extended their lead to 5-2 on an Alex Ovechkin goal care of an odd man rush.

Vasilevskiy was pulled from the opener after facing 25 shots in two periods, but the Lightning didn't pin the loss on him.

"Obviously, it doesn't matter what we did in Game 1 when it comes to Game 2", Beagle said. He's also been effective in Backstrom's spot on the first power-play unit.

The Lightning will have to turn the series around on the road to return to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2015. We thought we played pretty well and we were down 2-0 in that series. "Now we are, so we'll see what type of team we are".

"I like the playoffs", Eller, who has 11 points (five goals, six assists) this postseason, told NHL.com.

The Lightning showed nearly right off the bat that their adjustment to the Washington trap that had stymied them in game one was to skate right through it. Tampa Bay is said to have a considerable speed advantage in this series, and they chose to take advantage of that on Sunday night in an effort to break up the Capitals' stifling defense. He took part in the morning skate on a limited basis and remains day-to-day.

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