Published: Sat, May 12, 2018
Sport | By Wilson Duncan

Capitals-Lightning, 1st Ld-Writethru,530

Capitals-Lightning, 1st Ld-Writethru,530

Kelly noted Braden Holtby and Andrei Vasilevskiy were two of the best goaltenders in the 2018 National Hockey League playoffs and their goals against average - Holtby's 2.04 and Vasilevskiy's 2.20 - prove it. I can't help but wonder if getting over that hurdle results in a bit of a letdown though.

Czech defenceman Michal Kempny, with the first of the game and his first of the postseason, and Lars Eller, of Denmark, also scored for Washington, a team playing their first National Hockey League semi-final series in two decades. The four teams who are challenging for the Stanley Cup are new to the stage dating back a decade-and-a-half. Tampa had 10 shots on goal through two periods, which was the fewest through the first 40 minutes they had in any game this season, in the regular season or the playoffs. Here are the differences between the clubs that explain my choice of Tampa Bay making it out of this matchup. Palat added his goal at 13:03, trimming Washington's lead to 4-2.

Why The Lightning Win If it wasn't for a lull in the back half of the season, Tampa Bay, who were long seen as the Presidents' Trophy frontrunners, probably could have sealed the deal and taken the prize as the regular season's top team.

He knows the ins and outs of these two teams, going 21-9 on Washington games and 23-14 on games involving Tampa Bay.

The Lightning advanced to the conference final with a series win over the Boston Bruins. And, oh, you can forget all that baloney about Washington just being happy to be here.

To me, the Capitals are going to need Braden Holtby to steal them the series, that or Alexander Ovechkin is going to have to be lights out in the series with an onslaught of goals. Winnipeg and Vegas are both obnoxious, just in different ways. They didn't dispose of San Jose as easily as they did the Kings but they still looked strong. "They were on top of us".

Lightning coach Jon Cooper said earlier in the week the Lightning can not make a habit of losing Game 1 of the series. You don't want to be, but you don't have to look too far to draw back on the way we responded against Boston. The over-under, or total number of goals Vegas thinks will be scored, is six. So I think it's a good thing to have some fan bases have some extended postseason success.

What excites Winnipeg head coach Paul Maurice most about the fresh teams in the conference finals is the hope it keeps alive in the remaining cities. It was his second marker and fifth point in 12 playoff games. Nope. Maybe they can rely on playing defence?

Game two of the series is Sunday night in Tampa. "I thought we played with some quickness - quick, simple and smart". But I surely don't see them proving me wrong against the Jets, a team who will punish the smaller Golden Knights throughout the series. "I think the belief in the group, or the chemistry in the group, is the intangible, and this group has a good chemistry about it". Pretty sure no one saw that coming at the beginning of the season. William Karlsson and Johnathan Marchessault can't do it all by themselves in this series. Not to mention that the series features two of the best goalies from this year's playoffs thus far in Fleury and Hellebuyck.

Through a three-way trade with the Golden Knights and Columbus Blue Jackets involving draft picks, the Jets lost 34-year-old Chris Thorburn in the expansion draft to Vegas. It won't be easy, but the Jets use their size and speed to wear down Vegas and advance.

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