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Three Takeaways from Capitals’ Commanding Game 2 Win over Lightning


The Washington Capitals take a commanding 2-0 series lead as the Eastern Conference Final shifts to D.C. The Capitals overcame two questionable penalty calls that resulted in power play goals by the Tampa Bay Lightning, answering with five unanswered goals for a 6-2 Game 2 win.

1. Two Questionable Penalties Cost the Capitals Two Goals

If not for two questionable calls by the referees, Game 2 may have been more wide open. Both head-scratchers occurred in the first period with the first being a a goalie interference penalty on Tom Wilson. Wilson sprung ahead with Chris Kunitz apparently hooking him with the stick. Wilson shifted his direction to avoid Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy hitting the goal post instead. Officials called Wilson for goalie interference and totally missed Kunitz’s hook. Tampa scored on the subsequent power play to tie the game at 1-1.

Then a phantom high-sticking was called on T.J. Oshie midway through the period. Replay shows, Oshie hit the puck, sending it into the face Victor Hedman. Steven Stamkos scored the ensuing power play goal that gave Tampa a 2-1 lead that they carried into the first intermission.

Both questionable calls changed the complexion of the first period and shifted momentum in favor of the Lightning. Luckily for the Capitals, they were able to overcome the sequence with an offensive explosion that started in the second period and carried over into the third. If not, there would have been a huge controversy surrounding the outcome of this game. The better team ultimately won, avoiding disaster.

2. Capitals Offense Surged behind Evgeny Kuznetsov

Evgeny Kuznetsov is becoming a star this postseason. The Game 6 hero that put away the Penguins in the second round, Kuznetsov has been able to carry over his success to the Eastern Conference Final. In Sunday’s Game 2 his aggressiveness led to a Tom Wilson tip-in 28 seconds into the game that gave the Capitals the quick 1-0 lead.

Then following a Devante Pelly-Smith game-tying goal early in the second period and a Lars Eller go-ahead score 18:58 of the same period, Kuznetsov capped off a two-goal display in the final 62 seconds of the second. Kuznetsov scored off a wicked fire from the corner that got through the skates of Vasilevskiy to give Washington a 4-2 lead just 2.9 seconds from the end of the second.

Kuznetsov wasn’t done yet, as his beautiful deke early in the third period sprawled Lightning defenseman Anton Stalman to clear the path for him to find Alex Ovechkin for the dime. The Capitals took a 5-2 lead squeezing the life out of Amalie Arena. Washington dominated the final 21 minutes of the game with Kuznetsov finishing the game with a first-star performance with three points (1 goal, 2 assists) and a plus-2 rating.

3. Capitals Have Command of the Series

The Capitals have been down this road before but on the other end of the spectrum this playoffs. It was them who lost two games on their home ice back in the first round against the Columbus Blue Jackets before the Capitals answered with four straight wins to win the series. While the Lightning are fully capable of duplicating the feat, this 2-0 series lead by Washington was completely different. The Caps lost two overtime games, the Lightning have been outclassed thus far.

There are no gaffes leading to goals, the Capitals are the better team. In Game 1, the Capitals offense went off for four straight goals to take a 4-0 lead and ultimately winning 4-2. In Game 2, the Capitals didn’t let the two gaffes from the referees get them down. They overcame it, and ripped off five straight goals. Tampa has a lot of adjustments to make.

The Capitals are showing they can play multiple styles, locking down on defense while still having the capability of an offensive surge. Tampa will head to D.C. searching for some sort of solution. If they cannot early in Game 3, this could very well be a quick series.

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