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5 Keys: Lightning at Capitals, Game 6

Tampa Bay one win from Stanley Cup Final; Washington needs more from Ovechkin at 5-on-5

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

LIGHTNING at CAPITALS

8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN1, TVAS

Lightning lead best-of-7 series 3-2

 

WASHINGTON -- The Tampa Bay Lightning will earn a date with the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Final if they defeat the Washington Capitals in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final at Capital One Arena on Monday.

The Lightning are 2-0 in Washington and 5-1 on the road in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Capitals are 3-5 at home.

Teams that win Game 5 of a best-of-7 series that was tied 2-2 have won the series 79.6 percent of the time (215-55). The Lightning, though, had a 3-2 lead in the conference final against the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016 and lost in seven games.

The Lightning can become the first team to lose Games 1 and 2 at home and win a conference final/NHL Semifinal series since the Detroit Red Wings defeated the Boston Bruins in seven games in 1945.

Here are 5 keys for Game 6:

 

[RELATED: Complete Lightning vs. Capitals series coverage

 

1. Closer's mentality

The Lightning eliminated the New Jersey Devils in the first round and the Boston Bruins in the second round in their first chance to knock them out, each time at home. Game 6 is their first chance to eliminate Washington, except it's on the road.

Where the Lightning play won't matter if they start how they started Game 5, when they had a 1-0 lead 19 seconds into the game and extended it to 2-0 by 9:04 of the first period.

"You just have to impart to your team, 'This is the night,'" Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "Game 7 is not an option. It's Game 6 and let's end it. You have to have that attitude."

 

2. Ovechkin's 5-on-5 production

Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin has one 5-on-5 goal in the series. It came in Game 2. He has been on the ice for three 5-on-5 goals-against during the past three games, including two in Game 5, when Washington didn't get a power-play opportunity.

The Capitals need Ovechkin to be more dangerous at 5-on-5, especially if power plays are scarce. He had one shot on goal at 5-on-5 in Game 5. 

Video: WSH@TBL, Gm5: Ovechkin pots one-timer late in 3rd

 

3. Tampa Bay's puck support

The Lightning's puck support has been tighter in the past three games and needs to stay that way because it impacts their offense. It was the key to their first two goals in Game 5. They forced turnovers and had a support outlet nearby to create odd-man rushes.

"We were a little free-flowing [in Games 1 and 2], a little skating away, and all of a sudden the 10-foot pass turned into a 30-foot pass and they were just killing us in the neutral zone," Cooper said. "We had to make a few adjustments there, get our mentality set of how we're going to get through. So far, so good." 

 

4. Holtby's bounce back

Capitals goalie Braden Holtby had a 2.00 goals-against average and .928 save percentage (52 saves on 56 shots) in the first two games of the series, both wins. He has a 3.49 GAA and .844 save percentage (54 saves on 64 shots) in his past three games.

Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy has a 2.00 GAA and .943 save percentage in his past three games. Washington might need Holtby to steal one.

"He's been our rock back there and a lot of times has won us games when we didn't deserve to win," Capitals forward Jay Beagle said. "He'll have his best tonight."

Video: WSH@TBL, Gm5: Holtby denies Johnson in close

 

5. Attack with the lead

The Lightning survived after building a 3-0 lead in Game 5 despite getting outshot 26-8 after they had it. They were content with the lead and sat back. They can't do that.

The Capitals have led for 70 seconds since winning Game 2, but if they get the lead in Game 6, they too will have to stay aggressive because the Lightning will be.

Video: WSH@TBL, Gm5: Cooper on Game 5 win, taking 3-2 lead

 

Lightning projected lineup

Ondrej Palat -- Steven Stamkos -- Nikita Kucherov

Yanni Gourde -- Brayden Point -- Tyler Johnson

Alex Killorn -- Anthony Cirelli -- J.T. Miller

Chris Kunitz -- Cedric Paquette -- Ryan Callahan

Victor Hedman -- Dan Girardi

Ryan McDonagh -- Anton Stralman

Braydon Coburn -- Mikhail Sergachev

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Louis Domingue

Scratched: Andrej Sustr, Jake Dotchin, Slater Koekkoek, Cory Conacher, Peter Budaj

Injured: Adam Erne (lower body)

 

Capitals projected lineup

Alex Ovechkin -- Evgeny Kuznetsov -- Tom Wilson

Jakub Vrana -- Nicklas Backstrom -- T.J. Oshie

Andre Burakovsky -- Lars Eller -- Brett Connolly

Chandler Stephenson -- Jay Beagle -- Devante Smith-Pelly

Dmitry Orlov -- Matt Niskanen

Michal Kempny -- John Carlson

Brooks Orpik -- Christian Djoos

Braden Holtby

Philipp Grubauer

Scratched: Alex Chiasson, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek, Shane Gersich, Travis Boyd, Nathan Walker, Pheonix Copley

Injured: None

 

Status report

Burakovsky, scratched for Game 5, will replace Chiasson, who played in Game 5 after being scratched for Game 4. … Vrana is moving up to the second line. He was on the third line in Game 5, when Stephenson played on the second line.

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