Sports

Andrei Vasilevskiy Helps Tampa Bay Lightning Steal Game 4 vs. Washington Capitals

Andrei Vasilevskiy Helps Tampa Bay Lightning Steal Game 4 vs. Washington Capitals

And with it, a series that could go the distance.

Only five teams in the 31-club National Hockey League had more victories at home than Washington's 28 - and that total represents seven more wins than the Capitals managed on the road. They entered the Capitals zone with 13 seconds left on Eller's penalty, and two strong plays by rookie defenseman Mikhail Sergachev kept the puck there.

Washington went into Tampa and took the first two games decidedly winning 4-2, and 6-2. Nothing has come easy for this team, as everyone knows. The road teams are 2-0 in this series. For the first time in the series, the outcome wasn't obvious until the final minute of play - although it should have been.

Then it wins games just as unexpectedly.

As in game three, Washington came out flying.

So now the Lightning returns home tied at 2.

Simply put, Vasilevskiy stole this one for his team.

The game started just the way that the Capitals had scripted it.

Nicklas Backstrom took some reps with the power-play unit at the morning skate, but the big question remains whether Washington's all-star centreman will be back in the lineup for Thursday night's Game 4.

We may see Backstrom in his first-ever conference final, which would be enormous for the Capitals, because even if his right hand isn't 100 per cent, the eyes and brain of one of the best playmakers in the league are.

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And then, for whatever reason, Washington chose to kill the good vibes.

The Capitals scored early to take a 1-0 advantage, but gave up a quick goal just over a minute later to bring the score to 1-1. The Caps lead the Eastern Conference Finals 2-1 over Tampa Bay.

It was as if the Capitals had briefly forgotten what had given them success.

Asked what his club could do to fare better at home, Capitals coach Barry Trotz said: "Just play the way we do on the road".

Despite the praise for their netminder, the Lightning were well aware of their faults after games three and four.

Tampa Bay finally turned the tables midway through the period.

It wasn't quite that bad.

Tyler Johnson had lost his stick during that second-period standoff and was left to challenge the longtime Washington star with just his body as defense. The Lightning's captain now has a power-play goal in each of this series' first four games, and his team has capitalized on the power play at least once in each of the past nine contests.

The game was barely 8 1/2 minutes old, and the Lightning had only accumulated five shots. At times, it seemed like the puck never left Tampa Bay's blue line. Defensively, the Washington Capitals are allowing 2.9 goals per game and are killing 80.3 percent of their opponents power plays. T.J. Oshie move the puck to Dimitri Orlov, and the Novokuznetsk, Russia, native got Washington on the board 4:28 into the game. It sparked the crowd. That person was Killorn, who scored his first goal in 11 postseason games after scoring four in the first three games in the opening round against New Jersey.

Based on the shot attempts, Washington should have had plenty more. Full credit to Vasilevskiy, who played his best game of the series by far.