TAMPA – The Tampa Bay Lightning are considered the favorites to win the Stanley Cup. But they didn’t act like it in their opening game in the Eastern Conference final.
The Washington Capitals claimed a 4-0 lead against the Lightning in the first 27 minutes of Game 1.
The Lightning’s defensive coverage was lax. Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy was leaky. Tampa Bay’s offensive drive seemed disengaged.
When Lars Eller scored Washington’s fourth goal at 6:42 of the second period, the Lightning had only four shots on goal.
Nothing illustrated the Lightning’s struggles more than Alex Ovechkin’s goal with about six seconds left in the first period.
It came on the power play, after Tampa Bay was penalized for having too many men on the ice, negating a beautiful goal by Nikita Kucherov.
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T.J. Oshie won a draw in the offensive zone, and Evgeni Kuznetsov fed the puck back to Ovechkin, who fired it past Vasilevskiy a few seconds into the power play.
The Lightning goalie, a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, was replaced by backup Louis Domingue at the start of the third period. Tampa Bay showed some life, getting goals from Steven Stamkos and Ondrej Palat, but it wasn’t enough in a 4-2 loss.
The Lightning did lose 6-2 to the Boston Bruins in Game 1 of the second round, then won the next four games to advance.