Tampa Bay Lightning Recap: Bolts cruise past Capitals
The Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Washington Capital in a comfortable 5-1 win at home on Thursday night. Pat Maroon scored twice in the third period to seal the deal, with Alex Killorn, Steven Stamkos, and Erik Cernak scoring on the empty net. Stamkos and Cirelli joined Maroon with two points on the night.
Andrei Vasilevskiy was not to be forgotten in the blowout win, as he stopped 30 of 31 shots against him in the win. The Lightning scored four on Darcy Kuemper at the other end on 34 shots. The Lightning owned 60% of the shots at 5v5, and 65% of the expected goals in the game. And as you can tell from the heat map, they were all over the front of the net and kept their own net relatively clean.
The Lightning also held Alex Ovechkin to only two shots on goal, but he had 11 hits in the game as he spent most of it without the puck. Ovechkin and his chase for the ultimate goals record is about the only motivator for the Capitals to run a competitive offense. As a hockey fan, I hope he breaks the record. As a Lightning fan, I'm glad he didn't get closer against us.
The first skirmish of the game came when Hagel drove to the net to chase a shot from the point and knocked over Caps goalie Darcy Kuemper. The two twisted and Kuemper ended up on top of Hagel, likely giving him several choice words for an awkwardly long time. It didn't result in much after the whistle.
Hagel got called for goalie interference on the play, but that power play was quickly negated as Bellemare drew a penalty, sending the game to 4v4. The Lightning got three shots to the Capitals one on the open ice. They also drew a real power play after the brief man advantage ended. Mantha to the box for tripping Killorn.
KILLER! And it was Killorn who'd get the goal on the power play with a low tip in front. Absolutely no one was covering the dependable winger from Sergachev's point shot and his tip went up and around Kuemper's glove and found the corner of the net. Nick Jensen had blocked a shot from Stamkos earlier in the penalty kill and it had him hobbling and that opened space for Killer.
The Caps had the edge in shots after the opening goal, but they struggled to get closer than the wings. The Lightning definitely held domain over the front of the net from early on. Personally, the lack of net-front presence showed where the Capitals are as a team now. The era of them as a playoff contender is over and they're just not good enough to get the same quality of chances.
Buzzer beater! Steven Stamkos took a faceoff win from Brayden Point and slung a huge shot into the top corner with barely any seconds left in the first period to double the lead for the Lightning. In all honesty, this ended the game. It would've taken a lot for the Capitals to come back from that back breaker of a goal. Sheesh is right, Bally.
A dominant period by the Lightning, who led in shots 21-12 at 5v5, even if most of their shots were blocked on their way to the goal. The shot attempts shared the story that the Lightning were in the offensive zone more than the Capitals were, and holding 71% of the expected goals (+8% on shots) showed they were all over the front of the net, too.
Darren Raddysh got a tripping call early in the second period, giving the Capitals a power play. Alex Ovechkin failed to get a shot as Hagel did a really good job of disrupting John Carlson at the point and not letting the puck get deep. The Lightning stopped about four zone entry chances and turned the Capitals back the other way before the two minutes were up.
Sergachev showed his mobility as he had to get back on a 2-on-1 with two Capitals coming up the ice. Sheary was one, but I forgot the other. Sergachev was essentially starting from a standstill and facing the wrong way, but some powerful pivots and stride got him on the right side of the puck as he crossed into his own zone. Sergy first closed up against the other winger, possibly Strome, giving Vasilevskiy Sheary, and then swooped back to poke check the puck away.
Craig Smith brought the Capitals back within one with a wraparound that beat Vasilevskiy to his left post. Sandin laid the puck over to Kuznetsov who shot the puck behind the net. Smith picked it up and somehow got the puck around on the broadcast camera side of the rink. Vasilevskiy lost track of the puck and didn't grab his post in time.
A little surprisingly, this was a much more even period between the two teams. The Lightning had the lead and the Capitals were pushing back, but they couldn't do much more than making shots 19-16 in favor of the Lightning. That said, they brought the game back to within one, so kudos to them.
The Lightning had plenty of chances in the third period, and scored on a few of them. One that didn't was this big save by Kuemper on Point, denying goal #48 for #21.
PAT! The Lightning regained their two goal lead with rush chance from Cirelli that found its way into the back of the net via Pat Maroon in front of the net. The goal was Maroon's fourth of the season and Cirelli's 15th assist of the season.
PAT PAT! He does it again, from a rush chance by Cirelli once again! This time, I gotta give more credit to Maroon for starting the play by pushing the defense back with his move through the middle before passing the puck off to Cirelli. Then Cirelli went hard to the net and Maroon cleaned up the pieces.
After all this fun, there was only about three minutes left on the clock. The Capitals made a token effort to try with the extra attacker, but like Killorn's early empty netter against the Hurricanes, the same happened with Cernak.
Cernak found the empty net unassisted (and also shorthanded because the Lightning had taken a too many men call around the same time).