Hedman silences crowd in 'huge' Lightning win over Capitals

Sheila Mcguire
May 17, 2018

The Lightning under Cooper haven't lost the first two games of a series since 2014, when they were swept in the first round by the Montreal Canadiens.

Tampa Bay did not look good in in opening the Eastern Conference finals by getting swept at home but the team rose to the occasion in game three to avoid an 0-3 hole.

Indeed. With a 4-2 road victory on Tuesday that saw Tampa Bay lead from start to finish, the perennial contenders at this stage have made it a series with the Capitals, cutting Washington's lead to 2-1.

"We had to check tonight, and it helped it go in our favor".

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Both teams entered the game red-hot on the power play, and the Lightning's unsafe extra-man unit continued its terrorizing ways. Those last-second power play goals, including a buzzer-beater, aren't exactly routine, especially in back-to-back games. The Washington penalty killed has been burned all series. Two minutes after that, they went on the power play, and Steven Stamkos blistered a one-timer less than a minute into it to give Tampa Bay a lead it never gave up.

Just as severe thunderstorms were moving through the nation's capital, a Lightning strike wiped out much of the goodwill Washington amassed in Tampa and ensured that this will be a competitive series after all.

"Thats just guys sacrificing their body for the team", center Brayden Point said. The three All-Star skaters combined for 7 points (3 goals, four assists) during the 3-goal blitz, which took just 9:44, while Vasilevskiy posted a.947 save percentage including several big saves while the game was still close to prevent the Capitals from gaining any momentum.

And the constant in the first three goals Tampa scored on Tuesday was Hedman, with his long-awaited goal to make it 3-0 early in the second period coming on his 29th shot of these playoffs.

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Evgeny Kuznetsov - Washington's playmaking centre scored a goal and had 15 shot attempts (12 SOG) in the 4-2 Game Three loss against Tampa Bay. Less than 10 minutes to go. "They scored, we didn't and that's on us", Kuznetsov said.

But the Capitals did not get away with that cleanly, because Michal Kempny committed a cross-check 16 seconds later and forced them into defending a 4-on-3 rather than mounting a comeback. I mean, that being said, I think we should be probably mentally stronger to not let that affect us. He's always there for us and tonight we did a good job in front of him.

As Cooper had said of Games 1 and 2: "It's 2-on-1 after 2-on-1".

"You think of Kucherov and Stamkos, those guys leading the charge", coach Jon Cooper said, "when we've needed them in big games ... those guys have delivered". You have to make adjustments at some point to give your team what you feel is the best chance to succeed.

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Tuesday night, DC councilman Jack Evans announced that Game Four is covered as well. But if anyone should know better than to look too far ahead, it's the Capitals and their long-suffering supporters.

"We haven't done anything yet", Stamkos says. "We've made it a series".

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