Lightning's Steven Stamkos: Game 3 win a 'step in the right direction'

Lightning's Steven Stamkos: Game 3 win a 'step in the right direction'

National Hockey League teams taking a 2-0 lead in a best of seven series go on to win the series 89 percent of the time.

It's the first of two road games for the Bolts, who need to win big Tuesday night.

The Washington Capitals host the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday.

Game 3 on Tuesday night in Washington can't come soon enough for the Lightning, who are in a historically hard spot after losing twice at home to open the series.

"I think as soon as they got the lead, we tried to rush plays, make some plays through the neutral zone, " said Washington star Alex Ovechkin, who took nine shots but never connected. Capitals goalie Braden Holtby had no chance.

The first came courtesy of Lightning captain Steven Stamkos in the first period, 35 feet deep according to the box score, stationed at his usual power play perch near the left dot. Nikita Kucherov extended the lead to 2-0 with a goal 1:50 into the second period. But a crucial 3-on-1 stop from Vasilevskiy on defenseman Christian Djoos minutes later turned momentum back to Tampa Bay as Vasilevskiy rebounded from two troubling performances at Amalie Arena.

Eller and Evgeny Kuznetsov had a goal and two assists in Game 2, and Ovechkin and Tom Wilson each had a goal and an assist.

"You're going to see there's a lot of five guys in the picture", Washington coach Barry Trotz said.

Vasilevskiy came pretty close to saving the Lightning's season with his 36-save, 4-2 win that prevented them from going down three games to none. The Lightning power play is now 5 for 12 in the series.

"We've thought about different things, but for me and our staff, we don't feel it's a personnel issue with how things are going", he said.

Throughout the regular season, the Lightning had the best record in the Eastern Conference.

"We've got the experience". He pointed to Game 4 against the New Jersey Devils in the opening round, when Kucherov had points on all three Lightning goals. Part of it was Vasilevskiy, who made the big saves when he needed to, but the bigger difference was that the Lightning was not constantly putting their goalie in a position to bail them out of trouble. "They've got a ton of experience and when their backs have been against the wall, they've shown a propensity to fight back. I always like that, and I think that it brings out in the best in me, and now with Nick out I've just been playing more minutes". Heading into Game 3 against the Caps, he had just one goal in seven games. But Washington's power play could not connect on its opportunities the way that Tampa Bay had. Even with the horrendous calls in the first period of Game 2, the Caps prevailed, and it wasn't even close.

"We're confident in what he does for us", Cooper said.

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