Lightning strikes the Capitals in Game 3: 3 takeaways

3 takeaways from the Tampa Bay Lightning taking Game 3 from the Washington Capitals and cutting their deficit in the NHL Eastern Conference Final in half.

The Tampa Bay Lightning managed to get on the board in the Eastern Conference Final against the Washington Capitals, taking Game 3 by a score of 4-2.

As they’ve done all series, the Lightning were deadly on the power play. They scored first courtesy of Steven Stamkos on the power play. Less than two minutes into the second period, Nikita Kucherov tallied a power play goal of his own. The goals were mirror images of each other, with Stamkos blasting a one-timer from the left side and Kucherov from the right.

Victor Hedman scored his first goal of the playoffs less than two minutes later on what amounted to an empty net goal off a feed from Kucherov. Brett Connolly cut the lead to 3-1 halfway through the period, but Tampa Bay regained a three goal lead with four minutes remain in the period on a quick shot by Brayden Point.

Evgeny Kuznetsov made it 4-2 late in the third period, but it was too little too late by that point.

Here are three takeaways from Tampa Bay’s victory.

WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 15: Steven Stamkos #91 of the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrates after scoring a goal against Braden Holtby #70 of the Washington Capitals during the first period in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Capital One Arena on May 15, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

3. Tampa’s dominance on the power play

The Lightning power play was the only thing working for them in the first two games of the series. They scored four goals in Tampa. Three of those four goals came on the power play. Their first two goals in Game 3 came on the power play.

For the series, Tampa Bay is 5-12 with the man advantage. They needed to do more 5-on-5 if they were going to get back in this series. They did that on Tuesday night. But it all started with the extra attacker. Washington can’t take lazy/dumb penalties like they did in Game 3. Braden Holtby needlessly tripped Yanni Gourde. Lars Eller stupidly closed his hand on the puck. Those two penalties led to the first two goals for Tampa Bay.

The Lightning had the third best power play during the regular season. They can set up Stamkos on one side and Kucherov on the other. Both are elite shooters and passers from their respective offices. You can only play with fire so long before you get burnt. The Washington penalty killed has been burned all series.

In the third period, with hope fading, the Capitals started taking undisciplined penalties. Part of it was likely frustration. But it’s something that can’t carry over into Game 4. Washington has to find a way to stay out of the box or, at the very least, give Stamkos and Kucherov less time and space on the power play.

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