EditorsNote: Updated throughout with quotes
A sterling start to each of the first two periods gave the Tampa Bay Lightning all the push they needed to win Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals, defeating the Washington Capitals 3-2 on Saturday night at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla.
For the first time, the Lightning lead the series, taking a 3-2 edge into Game 6 on Monday night in Washington.
Cedric Paquette scored 19 seconds into the game and Ryan Callahan scored 33 seconds into the second period for the Lightning, who have won three games in a row. In between those goals, Ondrej Palat tallied for Tampa Bay, which took a 3-0 lead on the way to winning at home for the first time in the series.
“We had good opportunities and that’s what you have to do (with them),” Callahan told reporters afterward.
Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 28 shots, including 12 of 13 in the third period.
“He has been our backbone all year,” Callahan said of his goaltender. “That’s why we had the season we had.”
Washington goalie Braden Holtby made 19 saves, facing only four shots in the final period.
The Capitals didn’t go away because Evgeny Kuznetsov notched his 11th goal of the postseason 4:21 into the second period. Kuznetsov has scored in all three games in Tampa in the series.
After pulling Holtby for an extra skater, Alex Ovechkin scored with 1:36 to play, but the Capitals couldn’t find a way to pull even. Ovechkin has 11 goals in the playoffs this spring.
“The margin of error of between the teams is not much,” Caps head coach Barry Trotz said afterward. “We haven’t scored (enough).
“...[The power play] is something we have to get some production from. We have to get special teams (going).”
After converting two of four power-play chances in Game 1, the Capitals are 1-of-10 on the man advantage. They did not have a single power-play opportunity Saturday night.
For the Lightning, Paquette’s goal was six seconds away from being the quickest goal at the start of a postseason game in Tampa Bay franchise history. That came from Adam Hall in 2013. Paquette had no resistance as he charged toward the net for the game’s opening score.
Palat’s goal came in transition as he appeared to have a difficult path for the puck to make it to the net, but he shortly fired a shot after crossing the blue line and Holtby couldn’t make the stop.
Callahan’s goal came with some traffic around the net.
This was the first time in the series that Steven Stamkos didn’t score for the Lightning.
—Field Level Media