After 20 years, the Washington Capitals are back to the Eastern Conference Finals in big style. The franchise, which has never beat the Tampa Bay Lightning in a playoff series, are now 2-0 after winning games one and two in Tampa. Now the Caps are two victories away from the Stanley Cup Final and they can hopefully achieve that before their fans at Capital One Arena.The Caps won game one by 4-2, after scoring two goals in each of the two first periods to open a 4-0 lead. Defenseman Michal Kempny scored his first playoff goal. He has been a great acquisition for the Cap’s great defensive system which they have established. Ovi scored a PPG in the first period. In the second period, Jay Beagle scored and then Lars Eller converted a PP to pave the way for a Game one victory.
Game two was a little more tense for the Caps. Although Tom Wilson scored in just the first 28 seconds played, the Lightning managed to convert two power plays with Brayden Point and Steven Stamkos taking the lead by 2-1 for the Bolts. In the second period, Devante Smith-Pelly scored on a great pass from Alex Chiasson to make it even again. Then, Eller took the lead for the Caps again and with a few seconds to go in the period, Evgeny Kuznetsov, with a PPG, extended the Caps lead to 4-2, the same score as in the previous game. In a 2-to-1 rush, Kuznetsov set up a pass for Ovi, and the captain made it 5-2. Some Lightning fans began to leave Amalie Arena at that point, and the scoring flow increased with one more goal after Brett Connolly scored to seal the deal in a 6-2 final.
Ovechkin scored one goal and one assist in each game, with a total of four points. Kuznetsov has five points (one goal and four assists) in the series now. Wilson has one goal and one assist, both in game two. The defense also contributed offensively with assists by John Carlson (2), Matt Niskanen and Dmitry Orlov, plus Kempny’s goal in game one. The scoring by players from secondary lines, like Beagle, Brett Connolly, Smith-Pelly and Eller, is another reasons for the Caps’ success.
One element that needs a bit more attention for the next game is the PK. Although both PPG converted by the Lightning were questionable, the special units have been one of the Cap’s strong points. Also, the Caps are playing against a strong Tampa PP unit so being more cautious would be opportune.
On the plus side, unlike some other teams, all the Cap’s lines are pretty productive, though naturally, the first line with Ovechkin, Kuznetsov and Wilson is on fire. The other teams have been dependent of their top lines, as the Caps were not so long ago. Getting over this dependence is such a big step in the right direction for a team.
Now, the series is headed to Washington for games three and four. Leading the series by 2-0, with huge wins over a worthy opponent at their home, the Caps have the chance to finish the round and head to the Stanley Cup Final before their fans.
Game three is scheduled for next Tuesday, at 8 PM (ET).