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Hedman, Lightning beat Caps to cut East final deficit to 2-1

17 May 2018

Nikita Kucherov in most got enough time to strike a sighting shot in the upper left corner of the goal, "Washington", and two minutes later Victor Hedman to the two assists he added in his debut playoff goal, sending the puck into the nearly unguarded net after a pass Kucherov.

On the first power-play goal, Victor Hedman, working the point, swung the puck to Stamkos in his wheelhouse, and the captain delivered with an unstoppable, rocket of a shot to the upper far post. "But we can't describe how good he is out there", Stamkos said.

"That can be a difference maker in the game, and for us it was because the penalty kill was excellent last night", said Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, who became Tampa Bay's all-time power-play scoring leader with a power-play goal and assist in Game 3.

Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper also opted to juggle his top three lines and was rewarded with additional offense without hurting his defense. "Was that the recipe? I think if you can control the play and play smart, you'll get your power play looks and fortunately we've been able to take advantage of a lot of them so far". That was the recipe. It was his first goal since Tampa Bay's second-to-last regular season game on April 6, and it signified - at least for a night - that Tampa Bay had found itself after struggling to score in the first two games of the series.

Braden Holtby made 19 saves, allowing four goals for the first time in the postseason. He plays power play, penalty kill, late-game, defending or trying to create.

"Not just that we scored first, just how we played", Hedman said.

Washington could get a boost if center Nicklas Backstrom, who has missed the last four games with an injured hand, returns. "We have to be better". He has been skating with the team and participated in Wednesday's optional practice. The resulting power play produced little for the Capitals, and that seemed to spark the Bolts, who would score the game's opening goal a couple minutes later when Stamkos ripped a one-timer from his desired spot in the left circle.

"You can't replace a guy like him", Beagle said.

This is the fifth time since conference finals started in 1982 that the first three games were all won by the road team, according to STATS, Inc. "Obviously to get him back would be huge".

"I think I saw what everyone else saw: we have a great core, great ownership, great management that's going to give our team a chance to win every year", Stamkos said of his thinking behind the decision to sign an eight-year, $64-million extension that will keep him in Tampa Bay until 2024. After looking completely out of sorts at home, how is it that the Lightning were able to regain their footing in the series as it shifted to Washington? "No one expected 4-0, right?" But obviously we know that we want him back. "We just have to relax a little bit and stay positive".

Hedman, Lightning beat Caps to cut East final deficit to 2-1