Game three of the Eastern Conference Finals symbolized the first time since 1998 Washington D.C. hosted a conference final.
The Capitals held their usual pregame morning skate at Kettler Iceplex Tuesday morning; and the team looked the loosest they have all postseason. Perhaps too loose. That same confidence carried over into the 8:15pm puck drop along with thunder and lightning storms in the DMV area.
There is actual lightning in D.C. right now. ⚡ pic.twitter.com/hwLCc1FfSX
— NBC Sports Hockey (@NBCSportsHockey) May 16, 2018
Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby was called for his first penalty this postseason after a tripping call at the 12:57 mark of the first period. Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos cashed in scoring his 3rd power play goal in his third consecutive game; as the Lightning struck first for the first time in this series.
After never trailing at the first intermission this entire postseason; Washington found themselves trailing at the end of the first period for the second game in a row.
Lightning star Nikita Kucherov scored his first goal of the series on the second Tampa Bay power play of the night to make the score 2-0 just 1:50 into the second period.
Just a 1:47 later Kucherov fed teammate Victor Hedman for a goal to make the Washington deficit three; Hedman’s third point of the might as he assisted on the Stamkos/Kucherov power play goals.
Washington finally started to show some of their own electricity on the ice around the halfway mark of Tuesday night’s contest. Brett Connolly scored his fourth goal of this year’s playoff at the 10:31 mark of the second period to cut the Caps deficit to two.
The home team continued to surge and show signs of life until Tampa Bay’s Brayden Point gave the Lightning another three goal lead 3:57 before the second intermission.
Game three marked the first time Holtby gave up more than three goals this postseason.
Evgeny Kuznetsov scored with 3:02 left in regulation to cut the deficit to two; but the Lightning held on for a 4-2 win; cutting the Capitals series lead to 2-1.
Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom missed his fourth consecutive game with a left and injury; he is still considered day-to-day.
Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals will be Thursday night at 8:00pm in Washington D.C.