Quick Strikes: Maybe we could give the Tampa Bay Lightning some credit for a win?

Come on, national writers, maybe let’s lose the “Caps choked” narrative.

The Bolts

According to hockey media, the Washington Capitals lost their way to a 3-2 series deficit last night after a strong start, with Matt Niskanen shouldering much of the blame for the loss. I’d like to be the first to suggest that maybe the Tampa Bay Lightning should be given some credit for the victory. Here’s today’s roundup of news. I’ve put the articles in order from most negative about the Capitals to most positive about the Lightning.

The Capitals have spent all their house money. Do they have anything in reserve? [Washington Post]

Before you start bemoaning that the past is the past and it’s trite and lazy to associate these Caps with those Caps, a reminder: In the past 50 years, 21 teams won the first two games on the road in either the conference or Stanley Cup finals. All 21 of those teams won the series. None needed a seventh game. The Capitals won the first two games in Tampa. Now those same Capitals need to win Monday night at home to force a seventh game.

Stanley Cup Playoffs: Lightning Strike Early in Game 5 to Take 3-2 Lead in Eastern Conference Final [Sports Illustrated]

The Capitals’ Game 5 performance would have fit well within any number of playoff failures past, but set within this year’s run, in which their focus and effort have been largely consistent even in defeat, it was jarring to see them blown off their mark by the fourth line, even if the Lightning got to this point by getting all they can out of one of the league’s deepest lineups.

Tampa Bay Lightning edge closer to Stanley Cup final by holding off Washington Capitals 3-2 [National Post]

Down 3-0, the Capitals started to play their best hockey and made it a one-goal game on goals from Kuznetsov and Ovechkin. But the hole was too deep for Washington to climb out of. The way Tampa Bay has been playing lately, the series is starting to feel the same way.

Boohoo. [RMNB]

Capitals’ slow start against Lightning puts Washington on the brink of elimination [Washington Post]

“We stunk in the first,” defenseman Matt Niskanen said. “They just outskated us, outbattled us, and the first shift in the second, I just get burned wide and they get another one.” Niskanen ultimately took the blame for all three Tampa Bay goals.

Tampa Bay Lightning push Washington Capitals to the brink of elimination with 3-2 win [Raw Charge]

A question was brought up during Jon Cooper’s presser about calling the Chris Kunitz-Cedric Paquette-Ryan Callahan line a fourth line. Cooper laughed at the question and stated that they are “one of their lines that contributes”; which he’s correct on. There has been a lot of talk this series about this line getting a lot of ice-time compared to previous series’ and on one hand I can understand where people are coming from. On the other hand, if your fourth line is going even with the opponent’s top line and limiting their scoring opportunities…well, you take that.

Burns: 3 Things we learned from snatching the series lead [Tampa Bay Lightning]

That’s what it’s about at this point of the season, sacrificing the body to win. Callahan was asked after the game how he’s still able to put his body on the line for punishment by blocking shots or dishing out massive hits when he’s obviously banged up from the cumulative wear and tear of the season. “It’s not hard, 23 other guys in that room would do the same thing,” he said.

Lightning-Capitals: Grading Tampa Bay’s 3-2 victory in Game 5. [Tampa Bay Times]

The Lightning just looked faster than the Caps for a period and a half before the Caps came on. Faster to the puck, faster to the transition, faster to the task at hand. It was just what was needed after Washington dominated at times despite losing twice in D.C. The Caps had no time to go on the forecheck. The Lightning was out of the zone and up the ice. I’m not sure if the Lightning was Vegas fast, but that story has yet to be told, by the Lightning or Vegas. Speed kills. Grade: A

In Game 5 of the ECF, which of these events happened?

The Washington Capitals choked their way to a loss6
The Tampa Bay Lightning were the better team and won226
Other (I’ll explain)10

The Prospects

The Adirondack Thunder lost the ECHL’s ECF last night in five games to the Florida Everblades. Our writer Trace will be writing up her season conclusion at some point today, but until then, here’s the game.

ECHL hockey: Florida Everblades hold on to eliminate Adirondack Thunder. [Naples News]

The Adirondack Thunder gave the 3,028 fans at Cool Insuring Arena a great heart-in-your-throat thrill during the third period of Saturday’s game. The hearts fell noticeably lower by game’s end. Florida got out to a 3-0 first-period lead and withstood the Thunder’s two third-period goals to win Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals 3-2, and the series 4-1.

And with that, our final prospects are out of playoffs and off to recharge for the summer.

Highlight of the game: