The Tampa Bay Lightning had their moments and Andrei Vasilevskiy stood (very) tall, but failing to convert on scoring chances and simply being outplayed all game were the reason why the Bolts lost their second game against the Washington Capitals, 3-1.
Here’s my play-by-play commentary on the game.
Within the first minute, 37-year-old Brooks Orpik gets called for a hooking penalty on Yanni Gourde. Bolts to the powerplay!
Powerplay: After several chances the powerplay strikes again! Vladislav Namestnikov, from his office in front of the net, deflects a Nikita Kucherov shot from the wing. The puck goes off of Philipp Grubauer’s glove and into the net.
Ovi: Minutes later, Dan Girardi gets caught flat footed and two of Washington’s plugs, NICKLAS BACKSTROM and ALEXANDER OVECHKIN, are away on a two-on-one. Ovi, arguably the greatest shooter the league has ever seen, elects to pass the puck to his running-mate who can’t get good wood on the puck.
Ovi 2.0: Not too long after, Ovechkin has the puck again and is streaking in on a two-on-NONE with Tom Wilson this time. Once again, he passes the puck but Victor Hedman is able to his stick on the rubber from behind, negating the scoring chance.
Not to sound like a Caps fan but Alex Ovechkin should never pass the puck when he is as wide open as he was for those past two chances. Give us entertainment! Give us Kuch vs Ovi going blow for blow all night! SHOOOOOT!!!
Vasy: The next 10 minutes see the Bolts struggling to get their forecheck beyond the perimeter and the majority of the play in Andrei Vasilevskiy’s end. 5v5 shots do not look good, 2-10 for the Capitals.
Penalty: The Capitals have obviously taken over the majority of the game so far. An indicator of dominant play is that the worse team stops skating and starts becoming more passive in their own zone, in order to protect from an overwhelming offense. Another thing that happens when teams stop skating is that players take penalties. Right on time, Ondrej Palat takes a hooking penalty of his own, sending Ovi and his band of merry men to the powerplay.
Thankfully, the Capitals fail to score on any of their man-advantage chances.
Late in the period, Washington’s top line of Ovechkin - Backstrom - Wilson come in on a three-on-two rush. Andrej Sustr panics and shifts towards covering Backstrom, who is in the middle of the ice, leaving Ovechkin wide open on the right wing. The gritty Wilson sends a slick saucer pass to Ovi, who’s patented one-timer beats Vasy top shelf. Third time’s the charm, I guess.
Chris Kunitz, who knows the Washington Capitals all too well, has definitely looked aggressive on the forecheck and dependable in the defensive zone so far in this game. For a 38-year-old, he moves very quickly.
Injury? At the start of a forecheck, Vladdy Namestnikov tries to reach for a puck as he is coming in off the wing. He misses the puck and follows it into the corner where he gets thrown awkwardly into the boards by Dmitri Orlov. Not a dirty play by any means but Vladdy is slow to get up, and when he does, goes straight to the bench. After the commercial break, Vladdy is seen crunching on his mouth-guard like nothing happened. Phew.
Palat, who is taking a shift with Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn, receives a pass from Killer while he is standing in the lower slot, the perfect area to score. He shoots! But is stopped with an amazing reactionary save from Grubauer. The rebound is available for a split second but is covered up before any more action can occur.
Penalty: Yanni Gourde tries to stick-lift Wilson, but the blade of his stick hits Wilson’s hands. Two minutes for you can’t do that (or slashing). Once again, all eyes will be on Ovi.
Vasy stands tall on the PK, stopping and smothering an Ovechkin slapper that was heading towards the bottom half of the net. Vasy’s strong lateral movement has been key to his success all season and his stops on Ovi so far in this game have been no exception (except that one play where Ovi was left wide open).
Penalty: In the defensive zone, Lars Eller steps on Vladdy’s stick and the refs see that as a tripping penalty. I mean, I guess. Back to the penalty kill...
Halfway through the powerplay, Tyler Johnson gets the best chance of the previous minute as he is allowed to streak away on a breakaway! He is cleanly alone with Grubauer but shoots the puck just wide.
Jay Beagle and Devante Smith-Pelly come into the offensive zone with possession and speed. Beagle takes the shot and is stopped by Vasilevskiy, but his rebound goes right in front of the netminder, onto DSP’s stick, and into the back of the net. Bad rebound control from Vasy on that play, but Anton Stralman also needs to be aware of the forward right in front of him and tie him up.
Brayden “Hart” Point: Late in the period, Brayden Point streaks into the offensive zone, sees the defender (Orpik) fall. Pointer skates around him with ease before cuttng across the crease and forcing Grubauer into making a good right pad save. Now on his knees, Point corrals the puck with Team North America Auston Matthews-like grace and sends a pass to Victor Hedman who is stopped.
Brayden Point just made the Auston-Matthews-at-the-first-World-Cup-game move— Papi's biggest fan (@HardevLad) November 24, 2017
this kid is damn good
Not sure if the Capitals took their foot off the gas or if the Bolts have actually played better but the Lightning have earned themselves the first three shots and eight shot attempts of the period. The top line have come up big for the team, leading the way offensively with great pressure in the Caps zone that leads to some scoring chances for Namestnikov and Co.
Powerplay: Halfway into the period, Evgeny Kuznetsov high-sticks Braydon Coburn (who is playing in his 800th career game!) in the corner behind Vasilevskiy. This looks like the best chance Tampa Bay will have to tie the game.
Umm... Nevermind. That powerplay did not look good. To make matters worse, the Bolts somehow iced the puck in those two minutes. You know it’s a messy powerplay when you ice the puck.
The game post-powerplay begins to open up, with Nikita Kucherov getting a great scoring chance. He fails to bury home the puck and the play goes back the other way. Jakub Vrana recieves the puck on a two-on-one, cuts across the net but is stopped by a right-to-left moving Andrei Vasilevskiy. Eller gets a chance minutes later but he is also stopped by the young goaltender.
With two minutes to go in the game, Coach Jon Cooper pulls Vasy in exchange for the extra attacker. Jay Beagle, from just inside the offensive blueline, throws a backhand wrister towards the empty net, and the puck hits his mark. This feels like the nail in the coffin for the Bolts but there is still two minutes left in the game!
And nope. Lightning lose 3-1 to the Washington Capitals on the road. Their first loss on the road in seven games. Not bad, but if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best.
Final numbers. Pretty even game overall. Lightning just couldn't finish tonight. pic.twitter.com/uig29Ryf8K— Replacement Level Analyst (@loserpoints) November 25, 2017
After failing to earn two points against the President’s Trophy winners on a Friday night, the Tampa Bay Lightning look for two against the Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday Night. Let’s see if they can beat the best.