Capitals lead series 2-1.
The Tampa Bay Lightning fought their way back in the series with a vastly improved performance and the reward is a chance to even the Eastern Conference finals Thursday night when they visit the Washington Capitals for Game 4. All-Stars Victor Hedman, Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov combined for seven points as the Lightning recorded a 4-2 victory Tuesday in Washington after dropping the first two games of the series at home.
“We believed all along,” Stamkos, who has scored a goal in five of the last six games, told reporters. “We knew we weren’t good enough, and credit to them, they played really good hockey the first two games. We needed to make adjustments. We did that. We worked on it. The players went out there and did what we needed to do.” Tampa Bay was much tighter defensively despite allowing 38 shots overall, and scored twice on the power play to improve to 5-for-12 with the man advantage in the series and extend their streak to eight games with at least one. Evgeny Kuznetsov finished with 12 shots on net and a goal for the Capitals in Game 3 while linemate Alex Ovechkin did not have a point despite accumulating nine shots, but coach Barry Trotz told the media his team was “off a little bit” and will be better Thursday. “We believe in each other,” Ovechkin told reporters. “We know exactly what we have to do. Nobody said it was going to be easy. They’re not going to give us two wins in a row in our house. We just have to play more desperate and play smarter.”
TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, CBC, Sportsnet, TVA
SERIES PRICE (PER PINNACLE):
LINE HISTORY: Game 4 opened as a Pick 'Em and Thursday morning the moneyline was bumped in the Capitals direction up to -120. The total hit betting boards at 6 and has been steady at the opening figure. Check out the complete line history here.
COVERS CONSENSUS: 60 percent of Covers Consensus moneyline wagers are coming in on the home favorite Capitals. The Over is seeing the edge in the total action with 53 percent of the bets. Check out the complete consensus data here.
Lightning - C Tyler Johnson (Questionable, Arm), LW Adam Erne (Questionable, Lower Body).
Capitals - C Nicklas Backstrom (Questionable, Hand).
ABOUT THE LIGHTNING (63-27-3-2, 55-35 O/U): Coach Jon Cooper shuffled his top three forward lines for Game 3, putting Ondrej Palat with Kucherov and Stamkos, flipping J.T. Miller to a unit with Anthony Cirelli and Alex KIllorn while moving Yanni Gourde in with Brayden Point and Tyler Johnson. “We needed to put guys in positions to succeed,” Cooper told reporters. “We probably needed to spring a little life into our group.” Point has four goals in his last five games and four of his 14 playoff points in the past two contests while Hedman owns a franchise-record eight-game point streak after scoring once and assisting on two Tuesday.
ABOUT THE CAPITALS (59-29-8-1, 53-40 O/U): Center Nicklas Backstrom (13 points, 11 playoff games) skated again Wednesday and could possibly return to the lineup Thursday after missing the last four contests with a hand injury. Kuznetsov boasts four goals and seven assists during a six-game point streak and owns 20 points overall - six in the series - while Ovechkin scored twice and set up two others in the first two contests against Tampa Bay. Goalie Braden Holtby owns an .899 save percentage in the series, but has stopped 57 of the 60 shots he has faced at even strength (.950) and leads the league with 10 playoffs wins entering Wednesday.
* Lightning are 4-0 in their last 4 road games.
* Capitals are 22-8 in their last 30 overall.
* Over is 17-6-3 in Lightning's last 26 road games.
* Over is 4-0-3 in Capitals' last 7 vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
* Over is 20-7-3 in the last 30 meetings.