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Capitals' Nicklas Backstrom to miss Game 1 against Lightning

12 May 2018

Or something like that.

Well, as we keep hearing, history is in the making.

The Pittsburgh connections extend to the Western final as well, where the expansion Vegas Golden Knights, backed by former longtime Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, were awaiting Thursday night's victor between the Nashville Predators (who lost last year's Stanley Cup final to Pittsburgh) and Winnipeg Jets (who've never made it this far before).

This was a statement win. But the effort was too late for Tampa Bay, who felt a similar state of defeat in Game 1 of the second round. Our first sign that this year may actually be different came when the Caps took the following two games from Columbus on the road. Ovechkin is the difference and the Capitals pull it off. If anything, that win might have had the opposite reaction. The Capitals and Lightning are far too resilient to lose in four or five. The NBA Wizards last played for a championship in 1979 when they were still called the Bullets, and the Wizards haven't advanced past the second round in five tries since.

"I don't think we were necessarily prepared for it", said Tyler Johnson, one of four members of that precocious crop who also has appeared in the playoffs for Tampa Bay this time around. "In hindsight, we were in this same position in the last round and found a way to respond". "Everybody was paying the price".

"We tried to create a moment for our side". That was his ninth goal of this postseason, to go along with seven assists.

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The rest of the team followed his lead. At the 7:28 mark, they were rewarded for their effort.

Holtby is coming off the best series of his career to this point, one of the main reasons Washington is here instead of the Pittsburgh Penguins. "Any time you give up a goal like that, it gives momentum to the other team".

Though it's not immediately intuitive that both teams are below 50 per cent in each zone, remember that there are three results in any puck battle. Tampa Bay Lightning is next for the Capitals, so the fight isn't over. Ovechkin must get going early if the Capitals will have any shot of taking down the highly-favored Lightning. The Capitals are a +165 underdog, while the total is set at 6 goals. They don't know how they'll react to being in the faster, more physical, higher-quality, higher-pressure playoffs. If they can play at least.500 hockey at the Amalie Arena, it'll be hard not to like their chances at moving on.

Beagle and Eller scored in the first seven minutes of the second period for a 4-0 lead.

The curse has been broken for Washington, D.C. sports fans!

The Lightning started the third period with Louis Domingue in net after Vasilevskiy gave up four goals on 25 shots through two periods. But by then, the game was practically over.

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"I've had some teams that have been very, very talented and they weren't necessarily the best teams", said Trotz, who is in the third round for the first time in 19 years as an National Hockey League head coach. "But it's a missed opportunity".

Indeed, this was as one-sided a win as you could have imagined.

Unfortunately, the Lightning present a whole new problem for the Caps.

So which team does Kelly believe takes Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals? This season, though, they've been pretty evenly matched, with the Caps going 1-1-1. Winger Tom Wilson, meanwhile, returned from a three-game suspension for a hit on Pittsburgh's Zach Aston-Reese during in the second round.

Defense is going to be a premium this series given how loaded each team is. While coach Barry Trotz listed him as a "game-time decision", there is a strong chance Burakovsky will play. He had 13 points in 11 playoff games before his injury in Game 5 against the Penguins.

Now comes the time when we see if the Capitals are ready for the next challenge - and it's a big one. Their second line of T.J. Oshie, Jakub Vrana and Lars Eller was tremendous in Game 6 and throughout the series.

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Capitals' Nicklas Backstrom to miss Game 1 against Lightning