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Conference Final

Lightning lose special-teams battle, fail to end series in Game 6

Go 0-for-2 on power play, allow Capitals to score on only man-advantage

by Brian McNally / NHL.com Correspondent

WASHINGTON -- The Tampa Bay Lightning have won the special-teams battle for most of the Eastern Conference Final against the Washington Capitals.

That wasn't the case in Game 6 at Capital One Arena on Monday, and it cost the Lightning.

T.J. Oshie scored a power-play goal to give the Capitals a 1-0 lead at 15:12 of the second period, and Washington killed Tampa Bay's two power plays in a 3-0 win that tied the best-of-7 series 3-3.

 

[RELATED: Lightning 'no good' in Game 6 loss | Complete Lightning vs. Capitals series coverage]

 

Game 7 is at Tampa Bay on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN1, TVAS).

"We didn't get one on our chances and they did. That's the way it goes in the playoffs," Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said. "That's why they're so important. It was another element that they were better than us tonight, and that's why they won."

That isn't the way it was early in the series. The Lightning converted 6-of-14 power plays through four games and had at least one goal with the man-advantage in each. They had scored on the power play at least once in nine consecutive games, dating to the second round against the Boston Bruins before Game 5 on Saturday, when they were 0-for-1. On their two chances in Game 6, they had one shot on goal.

Video: TBL@WSH, Gm6: Cooper on struggles, looking ahead

"You've got to be right on your toes, ready power play, be ready penalty killing," Tampa Bay defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. "You don't know when that opportunity might come. It might be late in the game, middle of the game. But you've got to be sharp on your reads."

The Lightning's first chance came 40 seconds into the second period when Jay Beagle was called for hooking. Nicklas Backstrom was whistled for a tripping penalty at 11:03 of the third period, 61 seconds after the Capitals went ahead 2-0 on Devante Smith-Pelly's goal.

Oshie's goal had already tilted the game. Washington was 0-for-8 on the power play since Game 2, when Evgeny Kuznetsov scored late in the second period. The Capitals didn't get a single power play in Game 5. But with the season on the line, they made the most of their one chance in Game 6.

Oshie is the trigger man in the slot on Washington's power play, with Backstrom and Kuznetsov working the right side of the ice, John Carlson at the point, and Alex Ovechkin in the left face-off circle waiting to unleash a one-timer. Backstrom surveyed the Tampa Bay penalty-killers, skated a few strides toward the middle of the ice, and waited for space to open. When it did, he fed Oshie for a one-timer that beat goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy with 37 seconds left on the power play.

Video: TBL@WSH, Gm6: Oshie opens the scoring with PPG

"It's all about trying to look somewhere else and pass it the other way," Backstrom said. "They're a good hockey team and they're going to kill penalties good with sticks in the way, so sometimes you've got to make those reads."

The goal was a disappointment, but Tampa Bay's penalty kill has done good work throughout the series. Despite allowing three goals on the Capitals' first six power plays in the series, it is 11-for-15 overall (73.3 percent). That's not great, but it's better than Washington's 11-for-17 (64.7).

"I'm happy with the way our penalty kill has been in this series," Lightning forward Ryan Callahan said. "We've done a good job against them. They're going to get their opportunities. They're going to get their chances. It was a good play by them. Oshie finds a little hole there and he puts it in the net. By no means is this on our penalty kill. It's on our entire game here."

***

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