Tampa Bay Lightning Hold Off Washington Capitals to Win Game 5

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Ryan Callahan
TAMPA, FL - MAY 19: Ryan Callahan #24 of the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrates with his teammates Ryan McDonagh #27 and Anton Stralman #6 after scoring a goal on Braden Holtby #70 of the Washington Capitals during the second period in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 19, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
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The Tampa Bay Lightning used fast starts at the beginning of the first and second periods to earn a 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final. They now lead the best-of-seven series, three games to two. Tampa Bay is one win away for its first trip to the Stanley Cup final since their 2015 loss to Chicago.

Ryan Callahan led the way with a goal and an assist while Ondrej Palat and Cedric Paquette scored goals for the Lightning. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 28 of 30 shots in net.

Washington was down 3-0, but goals from Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin scored goals to make things interesting. Braden Holtby collected 19 saves for the Capitals.

Here are three keys to the game.

Tampa Bay Lightning Get Flashy Start in Game 5

The Lightning struck twice in the first period with a pair of goals in the first nine minutes, four seconds. Paquette’s goal came 14 seconds into the game and got the home crowd fired up. Palat added the second at 9:04.

The hot start to begin periods carried over to the second period as Callahan scored the eventual game-winner just 33 seconds into the frame to give the Lightning a three-goal lead. Teams can really build momentum when they score in the first minutes of the beginning or last minutes at the end of a period.

Home teams were 0-for-4 so far in the series, but the early goals helped fire up a crowd that hadn’t seen a home victory.

The Fourth is With Tampa

The hot start was thanks to Tampa Bay’s fourth line of Callahan-Palat-Paquette started off strong and came up with all three goals. This line has been a thorn in the side of Ovechkin and the Capitals.

Lightning head coach Jon Cooper has used that matchup to try and harass the Capitals top line. Having the final line change before faceoffs helped immensely.

Star players often grab the headlines in a playoff series, but it’s the role players that can turn a series. The Tampa Bay bottom-six is pushing the team toward a third Eastern Conference crown.

Sitting Back

Washington didn’t sit back and accept defeat as they threw everything at Tampa Bay. The Capitals hit three posts and tested Vasilevskiy on several occasions. Ovechkin was able to break through with 1:36 left in regulation after Barry Trotz pulled Holtby for an extra attacker.

The Metropolitan Division champions are getting that feeling of blowing another series and they’ll do everything they can stop it from happening again. Washington dictated the pace and spent plenty of time on offence.

It’s one thing to play carefully to preserve a lead, but Tampa Bay went into a shell. Playing that style will likely burn the Lightning if they get a lead later in the series. Passive play does not win a Stanley Cup.

 

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