Hockey

Nothing within the tank? Washington Capitals cruise to a press release win in opposition to Tampa Bay Lightning

TAMPA, Fla. — Generally it’s about giving 110 per cent. Or one thing like that.

After being informed that Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper had mentioned his workforce wanted to extend their power stage by 5 per cent from the second spherical to the Jap Convention ultimate, Alex Ovechkin was requested how the Washington Capitals deliberate to reply.

Easy, he mentioned: “Now we have to raise 10 per cent. And we’re going to try this.”

Clichés apart, the Capitals adopted by way of on that promise. If there was any concern that this workforce was content material with having reached the Jap Convention ultimate for the primary time in 20 years, Washington put it to relaxation in a dominating 4-2 win in Recreation 1.

This was a press release win. And the assertion might need been to themselves greater than the Lightning, who might be looking for solutions heading into Recreation 2 on Sunday night time.

“Our aim wasn’t simply to get this far,” mentioned Capitals goalie Braden Holtby, who made 18 saves in probably his best win of the post-season. “We all know they’re going to come back even more durable subsequent recreation. We’re going to need to have a good higher recreation.”

Following an emotional second-round collection win in opposition to the Pittsburgh Penguins earlier this week — the primary time that Ovechkin had gained the higher hand on Sidney Crosby — the speak had been about how the Capitals might need emptied the tank. If something, that win might need had the other response.

This didn’t appear to be a workforce working on fumes. As an alternative, the Capitals regarded calm and in management, as if getting over their post-season hump had lifted an enormous weight from the gamers’ shoulders. Particularly, Ovechkin performed with the liberty of a person who had been ready his complete profession to for this second.

“I believe we simply realized now we now have to play our approach,” mentioned Ovechkin, who has 9 targets and 17 factors within the playoffs. “It doesn’t matter which place we’re, what spherical it’s. It’s effort. All people was paying the value. It exhibits.

“We tried to create a second for our facet.”

The Washington captain, who because the gap-toothed face of the franchise had in all probability worn the earlier post-season disappointments extra so than another participant, had certainly one of his finest video games of this 12 months’s playoffs. He supplied a display screen on the primary aim, scored the second on an absolute rocket, after which picked up an help on the fourth.

The remainder of the workforce adopted his lead.

From the opening faceoff, the Capitals dominated the offensive zone, outshooting and out-chancing the Lightning. On the 7:28 mark, they have been rewarded for his or her effort. An extended-range wrist shot from defenceman Michal Kempny discovered its approach by way of a maze of our bodies and beat goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy to offer Washington a 1-Zero lead.

On the different finish, the Lightning regarded sluggish and out of sync. Their possibilities have been few and much between. The one time they discovered the again of the online, the outcome was a no-goal and a too-many males penalty.

“We have been six males by a mile, so I don’t assume anybody is fired up by the aim,” mentioned Lightning captain Steven Stamkos. “However anytime you quit a aim on the finish of a interval, it offers momentum to the opposite workforce. That’s simply execution.”

It turned out to be a pivotal second for each groups. After a Washington giveaway, Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov was sprung for a breakaway, by which he beat Holtby with a beautiful deke. However the aim was shortly waved off as a result of the Lightning had too many males on the ice. As an alternative of it being a tie recreation, the Capitals got an influence play and made the many of the alternative with Ovechkin blasting a one-timer with simply six seconds left within the interval.

“Alex has a much bigger candy spot than most individuals, so it doesn’t need to completely be in his wheelhouse,” mentioned Capitals head coach Barry Trotz. “They’re high-skilled, high-execution kind guys and it labored out. They referred to as it. They knew they didn’t have that a lot time. So, they’ve a plan each time they go on the market.”

The Capitals, who outshot the Lightning 25-10 by way of 40 minutes, stored pouring it on within the second interval.

Jay Beagle made it 3-Zero on a damaged passing play. And 4 minutes later, Washington primarily chased Vasilevskiy from the online when Ovechkin fanned on a shot that landed on Lars Eller’s stick.

The Lightning, who started the third interval with Louis Domingue changing Vasilevskiy in web, obtained two fast targets. However by then, the sport was virtually over.

“They have been faster to pucks, they extra structured, they have been higher on particular groups. That’s a fairly recipe to win,” mentioned Stamkos. “It’s a missed alternative.”

Certainly, this was as one-sided a win as you can have imagined. And for the Lightning, it was nothing new. Within the second spherical, Tampa Bay had confronted a Boston Bruins workforce that was driving a wave of momentum following a Recreation 7 win in opposition to the Toronto Maple Leafs, shedding 6-2 within the series-opener.

The problem might be to do the identical in opposition to the Capitals, which could not be simple if Nicklas Backstrom manages to return from a hand harm that stored him out of Washington’s previous two video games.

In different phrases, a workforce that gave 110 per cent may discover a method to give much more.

CAPS STILL WAITING ON BACKSTROM

Nicklas Backstrom missed Recreation 1 of the Jap Convention with a right-hand harm suffered whereas blocking a shot within the second spherical.

The Washington Capitals centre, who missed the series-clinching win in opposition to the Pittsburgh Penguins, has not practised with the workforce since getting harm. As to the severity of the harm, head coach Barry Trotz instructed the workforce is anticipating him to return in some unspecified time in the future within the collection.

“When Nick involves me and the (workforce’s medical) employees says he’s able to go,” mentioned Trotz, who had categorised Backstrom as a game-time resolution for Friday night time, “I don’t there’s a coach within the Nationwide Hockey League that’s not placing their high participant, like Backstrom, again within the lineup.”

Regardless of not enjoying on a line with Alex Ovechkin, Backstrom nonetheless scored 71 factors this season. He had 13 factors in 11 playoff video games earlier than his harm in Recreation 5 in opposition to the Penguins.

“All people is aware of Nicky is a high man,” mentioned Ovechkin, “however you may see the hassle we had in opposition to Pittsburgh (in Recreation 6). I believe it will likely be high quality.”

Lars Eller took Backstrom’s spot on the second line, alongside wingers T.J. Oshie and Jakub Vrana.

E-mail: mtraikos@postmedia.com | Twitter:

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