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Capitals keep playoff hopes alive, Lightning playoff seeding set

Lightning are locked into the first wild card spot after being defeated by the Capitals in the final road game of the regular season. In a game that saw a lot of physical play, the Washington Capitals came out on top to keep their season alive. Nikita Kucherov was held without a point while a scary hit caused emotions to swirl at Capital One Arena. Charlie Lindgren played well to help contain the Lightning offense while Andrei Vasilevskiy had a couple plays he would like to take back. With only two games left in the season all the team could hope for is to stay healthy. Up until tonight the team has played well and got hot at the right time with the playoffs on the horizon.


Physical beginning

Starting off, there was plenty of action going on with both teams playing physical in the opening minutes. 6 minutes had gone by and the Capitals had yet to register a shot on goal. On the other side the Lightning generated three shots on goal in a scoreless affair. With about half the period to go is when the Capitals started to apply pressure. Tampa began to fumble the puck as a result and eventually Washington captivated on the turnover and Sonny Milano scored to give the Capitals the 1-0 lead. Then, it was Tampa’s turn to apply pressure in hopes of tying up the game. Minutes later they would do just that after a couple of bounces. Anthony Cirelli’s shot was tipped by both Brayden Point and Anthony Duclair before going in the net.

Give up a goal, score a goal

The goal was awarded to Duclair, and the game was tied at 1 with 7 minutes to go. The game would not stay tied though as Milano found the net yet again. Cirelli’s pass was intercepted, and the puck was fired at Andrei Vasilevskiy. He then poke checked the puck away but Milano was right there to bury it in and give Washington the 2-1 lead. Next, Washington committed an unforced turnover of their own that allowed Tampa to tie the game late in the period. Brandon Hagel scored off the turnover to tie the game at 2 with a few minutes left in the first.


Suspended play

Later in the period a scary scene occurred. Mike Eyssimont checked Nick Jensen into the boards who fell to the ice hard as a result of the check. Unfortunately, Jensen had to be taken off the ice on a stretcher due to the impact of the hit. The hit was originally called a major and was immediately reviewed by the officials. After reviewing the play no penalty was called. Respectfully, both teams were sent back to their locker rooms and the 1:41 remaining in the period would be played before puck drop of the second period.

Resuming the first period

The time that was left over from the first period was played before the puck was dropped again to begin the second period. Nothing happened in the leftover 1:41 and the second period started as it normally would.  As expected, the game became more physical after how the first period ended. First power play of the game went to Washington with Steven Stamkos sent off for cross checking. Lightning killed off the penalty that saw plenty of scoring chances for the Capitals. Afterwards, Vasy continued to make save after save to keep the game scoreless to the best of his ability. Midway through the period and the score remained 2-2 in large part to superb goal tending.

The expected fight

As expected, Eyssimont eventually had to drop gloves and was challenged by Nick Dowd. Both were sent off for fighting as the hatchet was buried for the check on Jensen. Erik Cernak finally returned to the bench after being out since blocking a shot on the Capitals power play. Hagel remained out after an awkward fall on the same Capitals power play. With 4:38 left in the period Tampa went on the power play for the first time. Capitals killed off the penalty and the score again remains 2-2. Not much happened following the power play and the period ended without any more damage done. We later found out Jensen is conscious, alert, and has use of all his extremities. This was great news for everyone and are thankful it was not anything worse than what it could have been.

Duo of penalties boost Washington

Third period began quieter than the previous two periods. Minutes went by with no solid chances coming from either team. Later on, Capitals went on the power play for the second time tonight and looked to take the lead. On the same power play Nick Paul is called for tripping giving the Capitals a 5-on-3 power play for a 1:07. Lightning was able to kill off the Jeannot penalty, but the Capitals scored 5-on-4. John Carlson’s power play goal gave the Capitals the 3-2 lead with half the period to go.

Offense cannot force overtime

On the bright side, the goal was not scored while it was 5-on-3 but still stings to not kill off both penalties. Time was starting to run out for the Lightning to try and tie up the game. Sloppy puck play for the Lightning continued and that allowed the Capitals to extend their lead. A missed poke check allowed Nick Dowd to score with ease and give Washington a 4-2 lead. Vasilevskiy is pulled after the goal to get the extra attacker on. It was to no avail as the offense still could not get another puck past Lindgren. Capitals went on to win the game 4-2 and keep their playoff hopes alive. The loss means the Lightning are locked into the first wild card spot for the playoffs. Tampa Bay will finish the regular season with two games at Amalie Arena.


Three stars of the game

1st star: Sonny Milano – 2 goals

2nd star: Charlie Lindgren – Saved 32 of 34 shots faced

3rd star: John Carlson – 1 goal



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