Surging Capitals cruise past Lightning in Game 1

Capitals bust rust, explode early for win in first Conference Final game since 1998

If the Tampa Bay Lightning are going to advance to the Stanley Cup Final, they'll have to play like a completely different team than the one that showed up against the Washington Capitals in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final.

The Caps didn't hold any practice on Saturday, but head coach Barry Trotz told the media that Backstrom has been working out off-ice. And so they have to expect a similar response from Tampa, because Tampa didn't win 54 regular season games by accident, because Tampa didn't win two five-game series relying on luck. That's what we want to do tomorrow.

"The way you build your hockey teams, those kids get a chance to play all season long".

"Unlike Game 1 against Boston, when we did a lot of good things, I didn't think that was the case tonight at all", he said.

"I think it's we realized we just have to play our way", the Washington captain added. The Lightning was shocked in game one as they were down 4-0 after the second period and ended up losing game one by a score of 4-2.

With a night to dwell on it and time to go over the film, the Lightning's feelings about their performance didn't change Saturday.

The Capitals, in the conference final for the first time in the Ovechkin era, said they can't afford a drop-off in performance. After all, it was in the second round that the team lost 6-2 to the Boston Bruins, only to rattle off four straight wins. It was slow and ineffective Friday.

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"We had a really good start".

The Lightning didn't shoot the puck either.

"That's why we came in the room and said, 'Oh, we didn't have [scoring] chances, '" Kucherov said. We were a little high. We just didn't treat it that way. That was never more evident than at the end of the first period, when Tampa appeared to have tied the game at 1-1 on a Nikita Kucherov goal, but the goal was waved off because the Lightning had six skaters on the ice. Even in the third period, the Caps did a good job, only getting outshot 11-7 despite having a four-goal lead. "We [went] off the game plan".

Braden Holtby stopped 19 shots and Michal Kempny, Jay Beagle and Lars Eller also scored for the Caps, who are alive beyond the second round of the playoffs for the first time in Ovechkin's brilliant 13-year career. Replicate the effort and execution that went into that 4-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning, and couldn't this series be over in four games? It's how you rebound from the disappointments that ultimately define a team. The Lightning are capable of dominating, and they dominated. The Lightning are 8-1 in their last 9 Sunday games, 2-5 in their last 7 Conference Finals games and 38-15 in their last 53 home games. The trick is this: how can Game 1 be simultaneously meaningful and irrelevant? They should be ashamed of themselves.

The sample size, obviously, is over a smaller number games, but defenseman John Carlson said there's a reason for the Capitals' improved percentage in the postseason: there's more time to study. The Lighting should be the favorite here based on it nearly being a must-win, and the fact they're the deeper, better team from top to bottom. "After this practice, the page has been turned". He was hurt in Game 2 against Columbus. You want to get a block there, you want to stop them from scoring. "We're going to have to stay focused, not get ahead of ourselves", Oshie concluded.

The big picture will look a lot better if they do.

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