EditorsNote: Adds Capitals quote to finish
The Washington Capitals maintained their postseason momentum and trounced the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals Friday night at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla.
Michal Kempny, Alex Ovechkin, Jay Beagle and Lars Eller scored for the Capitals, who played in their first conference finals game in 20 years. The Capitals have won five of their last six games and nine of 11.
Game 2 is Sunday night before the series shifts to Washington.
“We can’t use (the layoff between rounds) for an excuse,” said Lightning star Steven Stamkos postgame. “They were quicker. They were more disciplined in their structure. They were better on special teams.”
Two of Washington’s four goals came on power plays as the Capitals led 4-0 less than 27 minutes into the game.
Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie both had two assists, while Ovechkin logged a two-point night by also notching an assist.
Stamkos tallied just 3:45 into the third period to put the Lightning on the board. The power-play goal came with Stamkos knocking in the puck from the back side.
Still, Tampa Bay generated little on the offensive end. The Lightning registered only two shots across the first nine minutes of the third period.
Ondrej Palat scored with 6:57 to play for Tampa Bay’s other goal.
Washington goalie Braden Holtby made 19 saves, with nine of those coming in the third period.
Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy made 21 saves on 25 shots across two periods before Louis Domingue replaced him for the third period and made saves on all seven shots that came in his direction.
“For the most part that’s the best we played through the neutral zone,” said Capitals defenseman John Carlson. “I didn’t think we were going to have a hangover. I think this whole playoffs we went out there with an attack mentality. It’s paid dividends for us. And it did tonight.”
Kempny opened the scoring just 7:28 into the game for his first goal of the postseason.
The Capitals had eight of the game’s first 10 shots on goal.
Ovechkin tallied his ninth goal of the postseason with just over five seconds remaining in the first period. The Capitals won the draw in the Tampa Bay zone, and Ovechkin unleashed a wicked shot from high in the slot.
That tally came right after the Lightning were penalized for too many men on the ice.
Beagle and Eller scored slightly more than four minutes apart in the second period.
Tampa Bay also lost Game 1 in the last series to Boston before recovering to advance to the conference finals.
—Field Level Media