Lightning hold off Capitals, 3-2, for 3-2 series lead in East final

  • Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Ondrej Palat (18) celebrates with defenseman Victor Hedman (77) after Palat scored against the Washington Capitals during the first period of Game 5 of the NHL Eastern Conference finals hockey playoff series Saturday, May 19, 2018, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) Chris O'Meara

  • Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) blocks a shot from Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8) during the third period of Game 5 of the NHL hockey Eastern Conference finals Saturday, May 19, 2018, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken) Jason Behnken

  • Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) knocks the puck away as Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov (92) looks for a shot during the third period of Game 5 of the NHL hockey Eastern Conference finals Saturday, May 19, 2018, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken) Jason Behnken

  • Tampa Bay Lightning center Cedric Paquette (13) tries to get past Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8), and defenseman Matt Niskanen (2) for a rebound on goaltender Braden Holtby during the second period of Game 5 of the NHL Eastern Conference finals hockey playoff series Saturday, May 19, 2018, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) Chris O'Meara

  • Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8) skates off the ice after the team's 3-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning during Game 5 of the NHL Eastern Conference finals hockey playoff series Saturday, May 19, 2018, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken) Jason Behnken

  • Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Ryan Callahan (24) celebrates after scoring against the Washington Capitals during the second period of Game 5 of the NHL Eastern Conference finals hockey playoff series Saturday, May 19, 2018, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) Chris O'Meara

  • Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Ryan Callahan (24) celebrates with teammates, including defenseman Ryan McDonagh (27) after scoring against the Washington Capitals during the second period of Game 5 of the NHL Eastern Conference finals hockey playoff series Saturday, May 19, 2018, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) Chris O'Meara

  • Washington Capitals right wing T.J. Oshie (77) and center Evgeny Kuznetsov (92) celebrate Kuznetsov's goal during the second period of Game 5 of the team's NHL hockey Eastern Conference finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday, May 19, 2018, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken) Jason Behnken

  • Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Ryan Callahan (24) and left wing Chris Kunitz (14) defend against Washington Capitals right wing Tom Wilson (43) during the third period of Game 5 of the NHL hockey Eastern Conference finals Saturday, May 19, 2018, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken) Jason Behnken

Associated Press
Published: 5/19/2018 11:01:50 PM

TAMPA, Fla. – Cedric Paquette scored in the opening minute and Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 28 shots to help the Tampa Bay Lightning hold off the Washington Capitals, 3-2, on Saturday night in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final.

Ondrej Palat and Ryan Callahan also scored as the home team won for the first time in the best-of-seven matchup, with the Lightning taking a 3-2 series lead and moving within one victory of advancing to the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in four seasons.

The Capitals, in the conference final for the first time in the Alex Ovechkin era, have lost three straight after winning twice on the road to begin the series.

Ovechkin scored with 1:36 remaining, trimming what once was a three-goal lead to one, however Vasiliveskiy made three more saves down the stretch to finish the victory.

Game 6 is Monday night in Washington, where Tampa Bay has already won twice to improve to 5-1 on the road this postseason.

The Capitals won the first two games on the road, scoring 10 goals on Vezina Trophy finalist Vasilevskiy and sending the Lightning – who had the best record in the East during the regular season – into desperation mode.

Tampa Bay responded by winning Game 3 in Washington, tying the series despite being outshot and outplayed for sizeable stretches of a 4-2 victory in Game 4 and returning home, where coach Jon Cooper was confident the Lightning would be better than they were in the first two games.

Turns out Cooper was right.

Washington’s Dmitry Orlov turned the puck over in the neutral zone on the opening shift of the night and Callahan made the Caps pay for the mistake, feeding Paquette for a 1-0 lead just 19 seconds into the game.

Palat’s second goal of the series made it 2-0. Tampa Bay extended the advantage to three goals when Callahan scored 33 seconds into the second period.

Outshot 13-4 and limited to one scoring opportunity in the opening period, the Caps began to put some pressure on Vasilevskiy in the second.

Evgeny Kuznetsov scored a goal in his fourth straight game, giving him a franchise single-year, playoff-best 22 points (11 goals, 11 assists) and trimming Washington’s deficit to 3-1 at 4:21 of the period.

The Capitals kept pressing in the third period, but didn’t breakthrough against until Ovechkin scored his 11th goal this postseason.

Notes

The road team won each of the first four games of a series for the sixth time in the last 10 years and 26th time in Stanley Cup playoffs history. Under that scenario, the road team has won Game 5 only three times. ... Paquette’s goal was his first in the playoffs since Game 3 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, ending a 34-game drought for the 24-year-old center. ... At 19 seconds of the opening period, Palat’s goal was not the fastest to start a game in Lightning history. Adam Hall scored for Tampa Bay 13 seconds into Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final against Boston in 2011. ... Capitals winger Andre Burakovsky was a game-time scratch.




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