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Conference Final

Lightning stay hot on special teams in Game 3 win against Capitals

Score twice on power play, kill three penalties in Eastern Conference Final

by Brian McNally / Correspondent

WASHINGTON -- The Tampa Bay Lightning power play was one of the best in the NHL during the regular season and has been even better in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov each scored a power-play goal in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final, a 4-2 win against the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena on Tuesday. 


[RELATED: Complete Lightning vs. Capitals series coverage]


Those goals, at 13:53 of the first period for Stamkos and 1:50 of the second period for Kucherov, gave Tampa Bay a 2-0 lead and helped it cut Washington's lead in the best-of-7 series to 2-1 with Game 4 here Thursday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS).

Each goal came on a one-timer, Stamkos scoring from the left face-off circle and Kucherov from the right.

"When they go in the net, they're all nice," Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said.

That's been happening a lot for the Lightning. After finishing third in the regular season (23.9 percent) behind the Pittsburgh Penguins (26.2) and Toronto Maple Leafs (25.0), they are 15-for-50 (30.0) on the power play in 13 playoff games, third behind the Boston Bruins (36.4) and Capitals (30.8).

Video: TBL@WSH, Gm3: Kucherov, Hedman discuss Game 3 victory

Tampa Bay has at least one power-play goal in eight straight games and is 5-for-12 (41.7 percent) against Washington, which failed to score on three power plays Tuesday. 

"We're going to need that to keep going," Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said. "We've got some big threats on the power play that can shoot the puck, and that was on display today."

Hedman, who scored at even strength in the second period, had the primary assist on the goals by Stamkos and Kucherov.

Stamkos' came after a failed clear by the Capitals. Hedman got the puck at the point, took four quick strides along the blue line, and put the puck at Stamkos' feet for a glove-side shot over Braden Holtby's left shoulder.

Video: TBL@WSH, Gm3: Stamkos blasts one-timer for PPG

"That was a great pass by [Hedman], and you all know [Stamkos]," Kucherov said. "He can shoot the puck. We all know him. We need guys [to score], and I thought [Stamkos] did a good job shooting the puck today."

Kucherov's shot was just as nice. After Hedman quickly passed from the point to the right circle, Kucherov scored short side past Holtby. 

The Lightning's 50 postseason power-play chances trail only the Capitals (52). Tampa Bay has scored 10 times in 31 attempts (32.3 percent) since the start of its second-round series against Boston on April 28. 

"Whether it's shooting across the grain or faking it, little things like that you try to catch [goalies] off guard," Stamkos said. "[Kucherov] and [my] shots are those ones where it just comes off the stick and you know it feels really good. It was nice to see those get in."  


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