After dropping the first two games at home, the Tampa Bay Lightning made the Eastern Conference Finals a series by beating the Washington Capitals 4-2 on their home ice on Tuesday.
They’ll look to get even in Thursday night’s Game 4 (8 p.m. ET) in Washington.
One Capital who might be extra fired up for the contest is forward Tom Wilson, who was unhappy with a first-period hit by Tampa Bay defenseman Anton Stralman that left him with a goose egg on his head.
Wilson called on the NHL’s Department of Player Safety to punish Stralman for the hit, which briefly knocked him out of the game.
“Well, it’s their job to take a look at it for sure,” Wilson said of the hit, where he turned his back to Stralman before being driven into the boards. “They’re probably reviewing it. I don’t know how much goes into it. I can tell you that if it’s maybe the other way around, you better believe they’re looking at it, and you better believe there might be a little bit more attention on it.
“I don’t know,” he continued, per the Washington Post. “But if anyone wants to feel the goose egg on the side of my head. He leaves his feet, I’m in a pretty vulnerable spot and he drives my head through the glass. I’m not one to lay on the ice, but it took me a little bit to collect myself. I got back out there, but everything I’ve heard all year, he sees numbers for a good amount of time and he elevates through the back of my shoulder and head. ...”
Wilson himself was suspended for three games in the second round for his hit on Pittsburgh Penguins forward Zach Aston-Reese that left him with a broken jaw and a concussion. Wilson, who took exception to his punishment, has reined in his physical style of play since returning.
Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny was fined $2,419.35, the most allowed per the Collective Bargaining Agreement, for cross-checking Lightning forward Cedric Paquette during Game 2 on Sunday.
Regardless, Game 4 is going to be decided by goals, not questionable hits, and the Lightning will look to goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy to build on a strong Game 3 after allowing 10 goals in the first two games at home.
Vasilevskiy stopped 36 shots on Tuesday night as the Lightning improved to 4-1 on the road in the postseason. He gave up 10 goals on 62 shots in the two losses.
“He’s our best player,” Stralman said of Vasilevskiy. “He’s always there for us, and we did a good job for him tonight. When we’re on, that gives him confidence. And that’s how it should be.”
The Capitals, who are just 3-4 at home in the postseason, stayed positive despite the loss.
“Tomorrow, you take a look at film and you see what you can do better,” Capitals goalie Braden Holtby said. “Next game is a new moment. This game doesn’t matter when it comes to the next game.”
Capitals coach Barry Trotz agreed.
“We weren’t playing as sharp as we normally can,” he said, per NHL.com. “We weren’t executing the way we normally did in the last couple of games. We were just off a little bit, and you can’t be off in this game to have success. We will be better next game.”
—Field Level Media