Game 3 preview: Lightning face near must-win situation against Capitals

Game 3 preview: Lightning face near must-win situation against Capitals

Game 3 preview: Lightning face near must-win situation against Capitals

It was also one of the few times in this series that the Lightning weren't chasing the game, something that the Capitals had exploited in Games 1 and 2. "He has been outstanding for us all year and he was great tonight", Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said.

To Cooper, the issue is that "for two games, we've dried up". "We weren't able to get some of our guys that don't really have a role in the power play or penalty kill to get a chance to use them again". "We've got the guys that are in the playoffs for the first time, guys have been through this, and we're capable of handling that". "We know they're really risky off the rush and we're trying limit their odd-man rushes".

"We've been committed in front of the net", Holtby said.

It is the same deficit the Lightning erased against the Capitals in 2003.

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

In 11 playoff games so far this season, Backstrom has three goals and 10 assists for 13 points.

Asked what the Lightning needed to do better, three-time Cup-winning defenseman Ken Daneyko responded, "Where do we begin?".

But in the first 20 minutes on this must-win night for Tampa, Kucherov was worse than invisible.

Now, Kucherov has not been the unsafe weapon he normally is ever since scoring five goals in the Lightning's five-game elimination of the New Jersey Devils in the opening round. You never know why it turns so drastically like that when they were so sound against the Bruins.

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Alex Ovechkin was held without a goal despite taking nine shots on goal.

After the first two games, it seemed possible that the Caps would return back to Washington and simply end the series against Tampa Bay. "We're happy about getting ourselves back in the series, but definitely not satisfied". The Lightning's backbreaker goals were in the second period, especially the two in the first 3:37, but the long stretch where they kept Washington scoreless set the tone.

"It took a lot of flow out of our game", Trotz said.

But as the final horn sounded in D.C. and Vasilevskiy skated off the ice as teammates went over to pat him on the helmet, the Lightning had changed the momentum of the series.

The Lightning needs him to grow up and be the player he can be - the player he was in the second period on Tuesday.

"He's going to have to be great", said Keith Jones, a former National Hockey League forward and current NBC Sports analyst. "Vasilevskiy's going to have to play unbelievably well unless the Capitals take a step back".

"There's a really good group of guys there", Cooper said.

One bright note for the Lightning, the last time they lost two straight home playoff games, in the 2015 conference final against the New York Rangers (Games 4 and 6), they won the series in seven games.

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