There will be a Game 7!
The Washington Capitals blanked the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-0 in Game 6 to even the series at 3-3, forcing a winner-takes-all Game 7 for the right to play in the Stanley Cup Final.
1. Braden Holtby Brought His A-Game
Braden Holtby stopped all 24 shots he faced. Holtby bounced back from giving up three early goals in the first 21 minutes of Game 5. He commanded the crease, and with great wall of defense ahead of him he was able to gobble up everything that the Lightning shot at him. including shutting the door on a Steven Stamkos one-timer when the game was scoreless. Going back to the second period of Game 6, Holtby has not allowed a Lightning goal in the last 99 minutes and 27 seconds.
2. T.J. Oshie Steps Up with Two Goals
T.J. Oshie was the Capitals’ Game 6 hero. After playing through a scoreless first period and the first 15 minutes of the second period without a goal, Oshie gave Washington a huge boost fighting they traffic to snipe the puck through the net to break the ice. Folliwng a Braydon Cobourn received a hooking penalty, Washington got the man-advantage.
The Lightning did a good job with a trap, but Nicklas Backstrom fed the puck to Oshie in the traffic and he delivered on the one-timer to give the Capitals a controlling 1-0 lead.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) May 22, 2018
Then in the waning moments of the game, Oshie lit the lamp again on an empty-netter for his second goal of the game. He now has seven goals in the postseason. In a night that the Lightning were able able to keep Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov, off the scoreboard, Oshie stepped up with his opportunities to lead the way back to Tampa for Game 7.
3. Insurance Goal in Third Was Huge for Capitals
A 1-0 lead in hockey is never comforting, especially when it’s the Capitals with all their ghosts of postseason failures. When the Capitals got the break they needed to get their two-goal lead. As the puck was dumped into the Lightning’s defensive zone, Chandler Stephenson chased down the puck and after a Jay Beagle dump against the boards, Stephenson delivered a beauty of a backhanded no-look pass to a waiting Devante Smith-Pelly, who deposited the puck in the net 10:02 into the third period.
Stephenson makes the brilliant pass to DSP who finishes it off! It's 2-0!
— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) May 22, 2018
The pass and goal blew the roof off of Capital One Arena, and dashed away Tampa’s hopes of tying the game. It was at the point it was clear the series was headed back to Tampa.
4. Capitals Win Battle of Special Teams
The Capitals have thrived on special teams all season. In Game 5, they did not have any opportunities. Monday’s Game 6 was nearly no different, except one opportunity in the second period and Washington took full advantage, as Oshie scored off the Backstrom feed. They got only one power play and they took care of business,
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay got two power plays — a hooking penalty on Beagle early in the second and a tripping on Backstrom 11 minutes into the third. Beagle’s penalty came in a scoreless game that was seesaw. The Capitals were able to clamp down and killed the Lightning’s man-advantage. Backstrom’s occurred just one minute after Pelly-Smith padded the Caps’ lead at 2-0. Just like with Beagle’s penalty, the Capitals were able to stifle the power play. Winning the power play and penalty kills dictated the game and did not allow momentum to shift to Tampa.