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Preview and game day thread: Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning, Round 3 Game 5

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The winner pushes the loser to the brink.

RxlandS

Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning: Round 3, Game 5

Time: 7:15 PM Eastern Time

Location: Amalie Arena

Broadcast / Streaming: NBCSN (link to stream), TVA Sports

Opponent SBNation Site: Japer’s Rink

Preview:

Well, well, well. Here we are. Back at Amalie Arena for game five. There was plenty of teeth gnashing by Lightning fans after they dropped the first two games at home. Capitals fans were quick to talk about a sweep. The mainstream media was ready to write their eulogies to the Lightning’s season. But the Lightning pulled it out in Washington and came back home with the series tied at two games apiece.

In my daily life, I’m not a superstitious person. But when it comes to hockey, I am quite superstitious. I have my rituals and my regulations about what I do, what jersey I wear, and what I eat on game days. Those rituals are more heightened when I’m going to a home game but I have some things I do with away games too.I couldn’t help but chuckle ruefully when a picture circulated on Twitter of a Capitals fan getting a broom signed by Niklas Backstrom prior to game three.

But hey, I’ve also gotta give this fan credit. After the Lightning won game three, and he recognized the error of his tempting the Hockey Gods, he did this...

But back to game five! The Lightning didn’t play their best hockey in game four. They recognized that and were very up front in interviews following the game about the opportunity for improvement. Andrei Vasilevskiy showed why he was the Vezina Trophy favorite for much of the season and should be the winner as the best goaltender in the league. (On a side note, I think Pekka Rinne will win based on GM’s normal voting patterns.)

To take control of this series and take back the lead, the Lightning must play better hockey. They need to get the puck out of the zone. They need to limit the odd man rushes, which they did well in game three but slid back on in game four. They need to continue their aggressive approach to attacking the puck in all three zones while staying within their system.

The Lightning are in control here. They’ve won two in a row. They’ve made this into a best of three series. They have home ice advantage and even though that hasn’t been an advantage for either team in this series, they would still rather have it than not. Now would be a good time for them to take advantage of the home crowd. Everyone coming to the game: let’s be loud. Let’s be proud. And let’s cheer until we can’t speak another word.

LET’S! GO! BOLTS!

Tampa Bay Lightning:

Lineup notes: [Pending morning skate]

Forward Lines:

Ondrej Palat - Steven Stamkos - Nikita Kucherov

Yanni Gourde - Brayden Point - Tyler Johnson

Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - J.T. Miller

Chris Kunitz - Cedric Paquette - Ryan Callahan

Defense Pairings:

Victor HedmanDan Girardi

Ryan McDonaghAnton Stralman

Braydon CoburnMikhail Sergachev

Goaltenders:

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Louis Domingue

Washington Capitals

[Pending morning skate]