After the Washington Capitals shot off to a 2-0 series over the Tampa Bay Lightning, winning both games in Tampa, the Lightning returned the favor, winning 2 in a row in Washington to even the series that sent many Capitals fans into panic mode. The momentum had clearly swung back in Tampa Bay’s direction, and the Capitals were befuddled at having blown a 2-0 game lead, dropping both the next two games before a disappointed Washington crowd. Heading into game 5 in Tampa, the series now became a best of 3 series, with home ice being traded each game.

Game 5 continued the Lightning trend

The Capitals could not afford a slow start on hostile ice, but that’s exactly what happened with Tampa scoring their first goal in under a minute of play. The Capitals looked disjointed throughout the first period, and heading into the second period, things didn’t start any better.

Again, the Lighting flashed quickly, scoring another goal within the first minute of the second period and were cruising with a 3-0 lead before the Capitals could mount any offensive answer.

It was the Lightning’s 4th line, including the trio of Cedric Paquette, Chris Kunitz and Ryan Callahan that gave Washington fits and contributed two of Tampa’s goals.

The Capitals did manage a furious comeback attempt, eventually scoring two goals to draw within one of tying, but it was too little too late. Their slow start dug a hole that they couldn’t climb out of, and they headed back to Washington for game 6, facing elimination.

Capitals fans were nervous for game 6

Washington was back on home ice, which would normally be a good thing, but they had already dropped the first two home games to Tampa Bay, and fans were hoping that, with their backs against the wall, they would see a different Capitals team.

The fans certainly did, with the most lopsidedly dominating game of the series.

Lighting goaltender, Andrei Vasilevskiy, played another brilliant game, but the rest of his team was no match for the hard-hitting Capitals, who ran over the Lighting in the most physical game that Washington had played during the series. Vasilevskiy’s counterpart, Braden Holtby, was flawless throughout the game, and the Capitals won 3-0, in the first shut-out of the series.

Washington now heads back to Tampa Bay for a decisive game 7, to determine who will play in the Stanley Cup finals against the hard-charging first-year expansion team, The Las Vegas Golden Knights, who easily dispensed with the Winnipeg Jets in five games.