Updates with new lead, quotes. But instead of resting on the accomplishment and acting like "second-round champions", the Capitals played like a team with designs on the Stanley Cup in a 4-2 trouncing of Tampa in Game 1 of the East finals on Friday night. Just more winning hockey. Yet the final 10 seconds of the first period provided an early turning point.
"We can't use (the layoff between rounds) for an excuse", said Lightning star Steven Stamkos postgame. In the first period, the Lightning posted a franchise playoff low two shots on net. "Everybody was all in and everybody was paying the price". And even when the Lightning crept back into the game with two third-period goals, the Capitals didn't allow them to climb all the way back.
In the end, it wasn't the Capitals coasting into Game 1 on the good vibes of the previous round, not exhibiting the levels of competitive ferocity to win this playoff game.
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Tampa reached the Eastern Conference finals for a third time in four seasons and the fourth time since 2011. Boston beat Tampa Bay, 6-2, in the opener of its second-round series before the Lightning bounced back to win four straight. But the goal was quickly waved off because the Lightning had too many men on the ice.
Kempny opened the scoring just 7:28 into the game for his first goal of the postseason.
"That gave us a real boost. gave us some breathing room", Capitals coach Barry Trotz said.
Then, as if things weren't already going the Caps way, they made it 3-0 less than three minutes into the second when Jay Beagle scored after Brett Connolly fanned on a shot. There were six Tampa Bay skaters on the ice - for a while. And the statement might have been to themselves more than the Lightning, who will be searching for answers heading into Game 2 on Sunday night.
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Stamkos and Kucherov had one shot between them in the first two periods. The second period saw them outshoot Tampa Bay 16-8.
Game 1 in the Western Conference Final starts at 7 p.m. ET Saturday. "They were better on special teams". "In hindsight, we were in this same position in the last round and found a way to respond".
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Andre Burakovsky - The Capitals winger returned to the lineup for the first time since suffering an upper-body injury in Game Two of the first-round series against Columbus. "We have to do the same here".
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The Capitals played perhaps their best defensive game of the playoffs. Four minutes later, another Caps power play resulted in Eller putting home a rebound of an Oshie shot after Ovechkin flubbed a one-timer. Alex Ovechkin leads Washington with nine goals, Nicklas Backstrom has 10 assists and Evgeny Kuznetsov has 45 shots on goal. He did a great job in Game 6 against the Pittsburgh Penguins, being asked to take on the Evgeni Malkin line. The Caps have outscored opponents 14-3 in the opening period this postseason.