Washington Capitals Defeat Tampa Bay Lightning: Eastern Conference Final Review

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Braden Holtby
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 21: Braden Holtby #70 of the Washington Capitals defends against J.T. Miller #10 of the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first period of Game Six of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Capital One Arena on May 21, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

As predicted this series came down to the wire with both teams performance interchanging with each tide of the game. The Washington Capitals came out strong and continued their underdog story by winning Game 7 by a score of 4-0. In doing so the eliminated the Cup favourites, the Tampa Bay Lightning in Florida. The Caps will face Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Final. The series begins in Las Vegas on MemoriaDayay.

Washington Capitals: Eastern Conference Final Review

This series has been drama-filled from the get-go. Going into Game 1, the teams were fairly equally matched. But at the end of the day, the Capitals perseverance and heart came through to triumph. Let us take a look at the key points in this example of hockey at its best.

Capitans Leading The Way.

With both teams heavily stacked with skilled players, it was up to leaders Steven Stamkos and Alex Ovechkin to step up. Both captains certainly have not disappointed this series Ovi, in particular, has been phenomenal. He scored goals, but he did more than that, helping out on the defensive end and also creating momentum on the forecheck. In this series alone the Russian superstar scored four goals and accumulated seven points. Although Stamkos scored four goals and two assists, all six came on the powerplay. The 28-year-old was not as prominate at even-strength as was needed. This made a difference between winning and losing this series.

Lightning’s Special Teams Too Stong

The first five games the Capitals were dominated by the Lightnings special teams, undisciplined penalties hurt the Capitals and the Lightning took full advantage. Their power play looked unstoppable. However, the Capitals were able to make adjustments as the series went on. The return of Nicklas Backstrom had an effect. As did a number of other adjustments, including cutting down passing lanes and taking away Stamkos’ one-timer from the face-off circles. A commitment to blocking shots also helped.

Most importantly though was the fact that the Capitals played a much more disciplined game. In Game 6, they only game the Lightning two power-play opportunities. In Game 7, just a single power play. Through limiting their opportunities and playing better defensively, the Capitals kept the Lightning off the board in the last two games.

Two Formidable Foes.

As expected Braden Holtby and Andrei Vasilevskiy determined the results of this high-intensity series. Vasilevskiy continued to be on form creating a brick wall and crushing the Capitals offensive plays for Games 3, 4, and 5. However, he struggled in the first two games of the series, and gave up three goals on the first 15 shots of Game 7. Meanwhile, the Capitals rode the hot play of goaltender Braden Holtby all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. The former Vezina winner did not have a shutout all season before this series. He couldn’t have picked a better time to get hot though. With the Capitals down 3-2 in the series, and their backs against the wall, Holtby picked up his first two shutouts of the year, and the Capitals comeback was complete.

 

Main Photo: WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 21: Braden Holtby #70 of the Washington Capitals defends against J.T. Miller #10 of the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first period of Game Six of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Capital One Arena on May 21, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

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