Obviously, this game turned during a crucial stretch in the second half of the third period. Nikita Kucherov netted his 200th career goal at the 10:00 mark, tying the game at one. On the next shift, Caps defenseman Nick Jensen was whistled for interference. Thirty-four seconds later, Lars Eller shot the puck out of play from his own end, resulting in a delay of game penalty. The Lightning went on a five-on-three for 1:26 with a chance to take the lead.
The Lightning had some great looks during the two-man advantage, but Braden Holtby made three saves to preserve the tie. Then, less than a minute after the Eller penalty ended, Dmitry Orlov ripped a shot from the left point into the top of the net, giving the Caps the lead back for good.
In the closing minutes, the Lightning generated several good scoring chances, but Holtby shut the door. The Caps also killed off two more penalties in the late stages - they netted a shorthanded empty-netter on the first of those.
So, as far as the third period was concerned, the keys were the Lightning's missed chance five-on-three, Orlov's game-winner, and Holtby's 13 third period saves. For the game, the Lightning finished 0-7 on the power play. Certainly, their inability to score even one power play goal proved to be costly.
As for the first 40 minutes, the Caps were decidedly the sharper team. They owned most of the puck possession, shots, and scoring chances. Curtis McIlhinney held the Caps to just one goal during the first two periods, which set the stage for the dramatic events in the third. But unlike many of their recent games, contests in which they consistently put their opponent back on its heels, the Lightning struggled to generate much sustained pressure. At least until the third period.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game:
- Dmitry Orlov - Capitals. GWG and assist.
- Braden Holtby - Capitals. 26 saves.
- Curtis McIlhinney - Lightning. 32 saves.