But the party had to end. The Lightning get the game's first power play with 2:26 to go in the first.
Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom missed Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday night due to a right hand injury sustained in Game 5 of Washington's series against Pittsburgh.
Grabbing the win for the Capitals was Braden Holtby, who stopped 19 of the 21 shots that he faced to improve to 9-3 with a 2.04 GAA and a.925 save percentage in the postseason this year and 38-33 with a 2.00 GAA and a.931 save percentage in the postseason in his career. I think our execution needs to be a lot better, and that's execution with a game plan and execution when we're trying to make plays with the puck.
The Capitals finished 2-of-4 on the power play against the Lightning.
"This is one we've been in before, so we just need to play better". "We didn't get much forecheck going. And it did tonight".
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"By a mile", captain Steven Stamkos noted.
The Caps, with the game's result seemingly assured, put forth a sloppy effort in the third period, but hung on for the victory.
Alex Ovechkin scored 5.3 seconds into the ensuing power play to give the Capitals a 2-0 lead, in what was the turning point of the game.
They had to sit there, knowing what had just happened, knowing it was an opportunity lost for them, an opportunity gained for the Capitals, knowing that the swing might have been the difference in the game, perhaps even the series.
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The Caps took a 1-0 lead 7:28 into the series when Michal Kempny fired a puck from the left faceoff circle through heavy traffic in front of the net and over Vasilevskiy's left shoulder. Hear all the highlights of Game 1 with John Walton on the call alongside Ken Sabourin on the Capitals Radio Network.
It looked like the Bolts tied the game with 7.1 seconds left.
And though they're now down 1-0, there's zero panic in this Lightning dressing room, among this group that put together the best regular season record in the National Hockey League. The referees got together and found out the Lightning had six players on the ice at the time of the goal.
Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed four goals and was pulled after two periods.
"They're going to have some desperation in their game, and we have to have some desperation in ours", he said. "Everybody was paying the price".
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Some of the 15,000-plus that actually make their way into the building are no doubt borrowing from college funds to do so. Scoring first in Game 7 wasn't imperative, but it's something the Jets wanted, and they got it thanks to Tyler Myers.
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. "So we just gotta get back to playing our game".