Day 36 was back to the high scoring match-up that we’ve been accustomed to since Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final. Tampa Bay scored early and held onto the lead behind more great goaltending as they come within one win of the Stanley Cup Final.
Here’s how it went down:
Washington Capitals 2-3 Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay leads series 3-2
One-handed pass leading to a goal just 19 seconds in? Yeah, Lightning has struck in Tampa, folks. #StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/vz2sxTEEBb
— NHL (@NHL) May 19, 2018
After both teams swapped wins on the other’s home ice, Game 5 was set to be an exciting match-up. With a total of 26 goals being scored in the first four games, with no game having a goal total less than six, this one was set to be exciting.
The Capitals looked for a more physical game with head coach Barry Trotz opting to play Alex Chiasson over Andre Burakovsky on the fourth line with Jay Beagle and Devante Smith-Pelly, but it didn’t seem to make a difference with Tampa Bay outshooting Washington 6-1 in the first half of the opening period.
It was a rough start for Caps goaltender Braden Holtby who let in two early, lightly shot goals.
Tampa Bay would only take 19 seconds to open up the scoring with Cedric Paquette scoring his first of the postseason.
The puck was bouncing around in the neutral zone and found two Lightning players in the Caps end as Ryan Callahan poked the puck past the defender to Paquette who snuck it between the five-hole of Holtby.
Nine minutes later the Lightning would add to their lead. Three Tampa Bay forwards entered the zone with Dmitry Orlov blowing a tire. Nikita Kucherov took the puck and slid it to Ondrej Palat who sniped a weak shot from between the face-off circle past Holtby for the 2-0 lead.
Tampa Bay would waste no time once again scoring 33 seconds into the second period. The Lightning fourth line found legs with Anton Stralman carrying the puck up the wing and driving to the net and throwing it on Holtby. The puck bounced in the air, and Ryan Callahan crashed the net and had it deflect in for his second of the playoffs.
The goal was reviewed and deemed that Callahan did not get the puck in with his hand and the goal stood for the 3-0 lead.
Washington would finally get on the board in the second, breathing a bit of life back into their game. Matt Niskanen would blast a shot from the blue-line with Evgeny Kuznetsov tipping it in from in front of the net for his sixth goal of the playoffs.
Alex Ovechkin would score his first goal since Game 2 with the net empty. Holtby headed to the bench with two minutes left in the game and with the Caps setting up in the Tampa Bay zone John Carlson sent a pass to Ovi from the blue-line and the captain one-timed it home to cut the lead to 3-2.
It's just a one-goal game, folks. #StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/bSVGf2p2U2
— NHL (@NHL) May 20, 2018
Sadly, for Washington, it wasn’t enough as Tampa Bay stood tall in the dying seconds to hold onto the win and 3-2 series lead.
Andrei Vasilevskiy continued to be the backbone of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Since giving up 1tengoals in the first two games of the series, he has only given up six since Game 2. In Game 5 he made 28 saves and in the last three games ,he’s made 100 saves on 106 Washington shots.
With the clock ticking down, Andrei Vasilevskiy slides over and makes a huge stop to earn the @GatoradeCanada Cool Under Pressure Play of the Night! #StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/liZ7DxvDOL
— NHL (@NHL) May 20, 2018
Tampa Bay outpowered Washington from the time the puck dropped in Game 5. Whether it be the quick start and early two goals in the first period or the tremendous defense and goaltender that allowed them to hold the two-goal lead through two periods of play.
The series heads back to Washington on Monday night. Game 6 starts at 6 p.m. MT from Capital One Arena.