As was the case in Game One, the Lightning simply didn't play well enough to win this contest. Certainly, the Washington Capitals are on a major roll right now - they are playing crisp, solid hockey and have been deserving of their two victories. But the Lightning have also contributed to the two outcomes - they have gotten away from the elements of their game that helped them capture the earlier series against New Jersey and Boston.
What the Lightning did especially well in those first two series was play sound team defense. They limited turnovers. They exited their own end efficiently. They displayed tight coverage, both off the rush and in the defensive zone. As a result of that terrific team defense, they were able to use their speed and forecheck the opposition relentlessly. They dominated five-on-five play.
The Lightning's team defense has clearly dipped in this series. In Game Two, the Lightning struggled with turnovers and loose coverage. The Capitals were able to take advantage and generate a high number of scoring chances. The Lightning's miscues came at critical times - they allowed a goal in the opening minute of the game and then two more in the final 1:02 of the second. Similar to Game One, the Lightning took a penalty in the closing seconds of a period, lost the d-zone faceoff and allowed a goal before the period ended. In Game Two, that power play goal by Evgeny Kuznetsov gave the Caps a 4-2 lead heading into the third period.
Generally, if the Lightning are going to get back in the series, they are going to have to play much better. Specifically, that means reestablishing the terrific team defense they exhibited in the first two rounds.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
Lars Eller's goal with 1:02 left in the second period, giving the Caps a 3-2 lead.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
1. Lars Eller - Capitals. Goal and two assists.
2. Evgeny Kuznetsov - Capitals. Goal and two assists.
3. Braden Holtby - Capitals. 33 saves.