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Caps Bring the Boom and Force Game 7
By: Jake Ricker
The Tampa Bay Lightning got off to a good start but were outplayed in the second and third. The Bolts played a very disciplined game but could just not get anything past Holtby. As for the Capitals, they did a great job of being physical and never looking back once they had the lead. This was an exhilarating game as both teams had chance after chance to score. It was a goaltenders duel for most of this one, and both sides made some fantastic stops. This loss was a bummer for the Bolts, but they will still have a chance to eliminate the Caps in Game 7. Let’s take a look at how we got here period by period.
The Bolts got off to a good start getting some chances early but were denied by Holtby. The Caps also got some chances of their own and even ramped up the physicality. Tom Willson put a huge hit on Paquette and the crowd loved it. Ovechkin would then try and take matters into his own hands as he raced into the zone, but he would run into Girardi who made a great play to deny him a chance in front of the net. The Bolts then put on the best shift of the period so far as they got chance after chance peppering Holtby with shots. The Caps were able to fend them off though and keep this game scoreless. The Caps would quickly respond, but Vasilevskiy and the Bolts would shut the door keeping the Caps off the board. Both netminders would continue to make some great saves and steal the show as they let nothing past them. As the game went on things would get even more physical as Miller dropped the gloves with Orpik and drove him into the bench! Both players would get 5 min for fighting and head to the locker rooms. The heat then turned up as the Caps then got a few big-time chances, but Vasy once gain turned them away! Girardi then blocked a shot and was shaken up, however, he would remain on the ice and seemed to be ok. The Bolts then came back with a few chances of their own but just couldn’t capitalize as time began to wind down. It was a goaltenders duel as time would then expire with the score noted at 0.
Shots: 8-6 Washington
The Bolts got off to a great start in the second as Jay Beagle would get called for a hook early in the period. The Bolts got a few shots in on Holtby, but the Caps would kill it off and keep the game scoreless. The Caps then got a huge chance as they got a near breakaway but Vasy stayed hot and kept the puck away. The Bolts would then get a massive chance of their own as they came in on a 2 on 1 but Cirelli would miss just wide. This one felt like Game 7 as the crowd was into it and teams were getting big chances and big hit after hit. The Caps layed on hit after hit as they really amped up their game trying to score first and take the lead. The Bolts would then catch a bad break as Point’s stick broke and the Caps got an odd-man rush. Then on the ensuing 3 on 1 Lars Eller would rip one form the circle, but it was Vasy again who came up big and made the stop. The Caps would then get a massive chance to take the lead as Coburn would head to the box for hooking. Oshie ripped one that hit the crossbar, and the crowd though went in but was waved off. Not much latter Oshie got the puck again and made no mistake as he put this one in the back of the net to make it 1-0 Caps. The Bolts then grabbed a few chances of their own to try and tie this game, but Holtby held them off. The Caps kept on pushing though as they got a multitude of big chances but Vasy shut them down. One shot trickled through Vasy who had no idea where the puck was, but a diving point saved the day and nocked it away. Another intense period came to close, but the Caps now lead by 1 heading into the final 20.
Goals: 1-0 Washington
Shots: 24-14 Washington
The Lightning got off to a more physical game in the opening minutes to try and turn the tides of the game. The Bolts then started to get some good chances in the offensive zone, but Holtby once again came up big for the Caps. The Bolts kept up their attack as they would grab a few more chances but still remained trailing by 1. The Bolts kept up the pressure as they had one of their best shifts of the period. The Caps could just not clear the puck, and the Bolts got a few shots off until it was finally cleared out of the zone. Despite all the Bolts pushes it was the Caps who capitalized on one quick chance. The Caps just beat the Icing and then Devante Smith-Pelly found the puck right in front and buried it home for a 2-0 caps lead. The Bolts would then get a great chance to pull within one as Backstrom would get 2 for tripping. The Bolts would not be able to cash in though as the Caps killed it off and preserved their two-goal lead. The Bolts then could just not get anything set up as time began to wind down. The Caps kept on taking it away and turning the push into their own scoring chance. The Bolts would then pull Vasy for one last chance to tie this game. The Empty net nearly backfired as Backstrom pushed to the net, but Palat came in and poked it away. Unfortunately for the Bolts, the empty net would not work out as Oshie lifted one into the net for a 3-0 Caps lead. Time would then expire, and the Caps would force a game 7
Goals: 3-0 Washington
Shots: 34-24 Washington
- Brayden Holtby (24SV, 0GA)
- T.J. Oshie (2G)
- Andrei Vasilevskiy (31SV)
Up Next and Final Strike
Despite being beat 3-0, this was a very intense game with all the close chances on both sides. The Bolts played well in the first as it was a very back and fourth game. They did not play terribly in the second or third either but still struggled to get tons of quality chances. Brayden Holtby was the star of this one as he made some fantastic saves, and if it wasn’t for him, this game could have been tied. The Caps grabbed the momentum and ran with it never looking back. The Bolts were merely outplayed in this one. With that said the Bolts will now have home ice and will look to win this once and for all in Game 7. (Interesting note, the Bolts have never won a Game 6 in the Eastern Conference Finals)
The Bolts will look to eliminate the Caps in Game 7 back in Tampa and advance to the Stanly Cup Final Wednesday, May 23rd at 8:00 PM