In a virtual must-win game for the Tampa Bay Lightning, the stars showed up in Game 3.
The Lightning struck early to secure a 4-2 win in D.C., cutting Washington’s series lead to 2-1.
Tampa Bay capitalized twice on the power play to build an early lead. After a tripping penalty was called on goaltender Braden Holtby in the first period, Steven Stamkos fired a one-time bomb that Holtby had no chance of stopping.
Lars Eller was sent to the box thrice in Game 3, his first trip resulting in the second power-play goal and eventual game-winner for Tampa Bay. Sixteen seconds into the man advantage, Nikita Kucherov went high glove side off a one-time pass from defenseman Victor Hedman to give the Lightning a 2-0 lead early in the second period.
Hedman, who had primary assists on both of the power-play goals, lit the lamp himself 1:47 later off a nifty pass from Kucherov. The Swedish defenseman now has points in eight straight games for the Lightning.
Brett Connolly put the Caps on the board just over halfway through the second, scoring off a feed from Chandler Stephenson. But Brayden Point restored the three-goal lead, making it 4-1 a few minutes later, notching his 14th point in 13 games this postseason.
Evgeny Kuznetsov cut the Bolts’ lead in half late in the third on a dazzling snipe from a bad angle. The Caps continued pressuring the final four minutes of the game, but Andrei Vasilevskiy’s 36-save night slowed Washington’s momentum in the game and the series.
Tampa Bay gets a shot at knotting the series in Thursday’s Game 4 at Capital One Arena.