The goal was to finish checks on Tampa Bay Lightning players as much as possible, though at one point Devante Smith-Pelly decked Dan Girardi and took teammate Jay Beagle down with him.
”I apologized to him,” Smith-Pelly said. ”I said sorry. He didn’t seem to care.”
Sorry, not sorry.
The Capitals made no apologies for taking the body and grinding out a physical 3-0 victory Monday night that tied the playoff series and set up a deciding Game 7. T.J. Oshie had a goal on the power play and into an empty net, Smith-Pelly scored a back-breaker and Braden Holtby stopped all 24 shots, but it was the bruising style that kept the Capitals alive and could still pay more dividends.
”You’ve got to wear them down,” Smith-Pelly said. ”Every game, if guys are going to be playing 25, 30 minutes, it’s tough when you’re getting hit every single shift. We’ve been on the body all game and all series. If it shows up in Game 7 where guys are starting to get tired, then it was all worth it.”
Game 7 is Wednesday night at Tampa Bay. The winner faces the Vegas Golden Knights, who are in the Stanley Cup Final in their first season.
Alex Ovechkin, Tom Wilson and Brooks Orpik led the charge in the grueling Game 6, throwing their bodies around all night like human wrecking balls. Orpik separated Cedric Paquette from the puck twice on one shift, Ovechkin leveled rookie Yanni Gourde and Wilson was his usual self Sam Darnold Jets Jersey , dishing out a handful of crushing body checks.
The Capitals outhit the Lightning 39-19 and outshot them 34-24, bruising and battering them all over the ice.
”It’s desperation, really,” Orpik said. ”You try to empty the tank as much as you can. That’s probably one area where we have an edge is the size and physical play.”
That edge was noticeable in Game 6 when Washington fired up an already-raucous crowd well before Oshie’s power-play goal 15:12 into the second period. While Tampa Bay goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy was again on top of his game in stopping 31 of 33 shots, Orpik said the Capitals wanted to give back to fans for their energy and did so by laying out Lightning players.
From Wilson’s big hit on Paquette on his first shift through the time Smith-Pelly scored with 9:58 left, the physical play took a toll on the Lightning, who didn’t have the energy left to muster a late comeback. Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos said simply the Capitals ”executed their game plan” and the Lightning didn’t respond.
”They played with that desperate hockey and we should have matched it and we didn’t,” winger Ryan Callahan said. ”They played like their lives were on the line, and we played like we had another chance and that’s unfortunate, but we’ve got to change the script now in Game 7.”
Tampa Bay had no answer for the physicality with a hit disparity coach Jon Cooper chalked up as, ”Somebody was engaged and somebody wasn’t.” The Lightning also couldn’t solve Holtby, who was at his best on a handful of deflection attempts to record his first shutout of these playoffs.
”I was just trying to stay in the moment, focus on one puck at a time,” Holtby said. ”I try and stay the same level through the game.”
The Lightning missed a chance to close out an opponent for the first time in these playoffs. They eliminated New Jersey and Boston in five games apiece but are now on the brink themselves.
The Capitals improved to 10-2 in the Ovechkin/Nicklas Backstrom era when facing elimination any time before Game 7. They’re 3-7 in Game 7 over that time but will obviously take their chances after grinding their way back to 3-3 in the series.
”I think it’s great that we’re close,” Oshie said. ”I think both teams for the most part figured out what works against the other team. It’s just a matter of who’s going to play longer Authentic Mike White Jersey , harder and do more of it.”
NOTES: Washington improved to 4-5 at home in the playoffs. The Lightning dropped to 5-2 on the road. … An assist on Oshie’s first goal extended Capitals C Evgeny Kuznetsov’s point streak to nine games, tied with Backstrom in 2009 for the longest in franchise playoff history. … F Andre Burakovsky returned to the Capitals lineup after being a healthy scratch for Game 5, replacing Alex Chiasson.
David Pastrnak had a hat trick and three assists to help Boston blow out the Toronto Maple Leafs for the second straight game, leading the Bruins to a 7-3 victory Saturday night and a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference playoff series.
Pastrnak shattered his previous career high of four points, scoring his third goal with 1:36 left to bring two trash cans full of caps and winter hats fluttering down to the ice. Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron each had four assists, and Torey Krug had three.
Tuukka Rask stopped 30 shots for Boston, and David Krejci, Rick Nash, Jake DeBrusk and Kevan Miller also scored.
Two nights after Frederik Andersen allowed five goals in the series opener, he gave up three more on five shots in the first 12:13 before he was replaced by backup Curtis McElhinney. The Bruins added another power-play goal – their second of the night and fifth of the series – to make it 4-0 after one.
Mitch Marner, Tyler Bozak and James Van Riemsdyk scored for the Maple Leafs, who never got closer than three goals down after that. McElhinney stopped 19 of the 23 shots he faced.
The series moves to Toronto for Games 3 and 4 on Monday and Thursday. Game 5 would be back in Boston on Saturday, if necessary.
PREDATORS 5, AVALANCHE 4
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Ryan Hartman’s empty-net goal with 1:09 left wound up the winner as Nashville held off Colorado for a 2-0 lead in the first-round Western Conference series.
After Hartman gave the Predators a 5-3 lead http://www.eaglesauthorizedshops.com/authentic-markus-wheaton-jersey , Alexander Kerfoot pulled Colorado to 5-4 with 35.8 seconds left. But the Avalanche couldn’t get another puck past goalie Pekka Rinne.
The Presidents’ Trophy winners started slowly, giving up a goal on Colorado’s first shot for a second straight game. Yet the Predators rallied again to take their first 2-0 lead when starting a best-of-seven series in their own building.
Kevin Fiala had a goal and an assist, and Viktor Arvidsson, Ryan Johansen and Austin Watson scored a goal apiece. P.K. Subban and Mattias Ekholm each had two assists for Nashville, which has won 12 straight over the Avalanche. Rinne made 26 saves. Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and an assist, and Gabriel Bourque and Gabriel Landeskog each added a goal for Colorado.
Game 3 is Monday night in Denver.
LIGHTNING 5, DEVILS 3
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) – Alex Killorn scored twice during a four-goal second period, helping Tampa Bay beat New Jersey for a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference series.
The Lightning scored three times in a 2:47 span in the second period, and the reeling Devils pulled goalie Keith Kinkaid after Killorn’s third goal in two games made it 5-1 with 6:48 remaining in the period. Kinkaid, whose stellar play since January helped New Jersey finish strong and claim its first playoff berth since 2012, yielded five goals on 15 shots.
Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point and Tyler Johnson also scored for Tampa Bay, which is up 2-0 in the series after going 0-2-1 against the Devils during the regular season.
Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 41 shots, limiting the Devils to rookie Nico Hischier’s unassisted goal in the opening period Jake Lamb Jersey , Sami Vatanen’s sixth career playoff goal late in the second, Blake Coleman’s third-period tally that trimmed Tampa Bay’s lead to 5-3 with eight minutes left.
Game 3 is Monday night in Newark, New Jersey.
SHARKS 3, DUCKS 2
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) – Logan Couture had a goal and an assist, Martin Jones made 28 saves and San Jose excelled on the road again, beating Anaheim to take a 2-0 lead in their first-round playoff series.
Marcus Sorensen and Tomas Hertl also scored for the Sharks, who gave another disciplined, organized performance while moving halfway to their first playoff series victory since their Stanley Cup Final run in 2016. The Sharks also are halfway to their first playoff series victory over Anaheim, their longtime downstate rivals.
Hampus Lindholm had a goal and an assist for the Ducks, who are leaving Honda Center with an 0-2 series deficit for the third time in their last five playoff series.
Jakob Silfverberg scored in the opening minute and John Gibson stopped 32 shots as Anaheim dropped to 3-6 in its last nine home playoff games overall.
Game 3 is Monday night in San Jose..
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