He pointed to Game 4 against the New Jersey Devils in the opening round, when Kucherov had points on all three Lightning goals. "That's what we came in here tonight to do".
Asked what his club could do to fare better at home, Capitals coach Barry Trotz said: "Just play the way we do on the road". It wasn't technically a must-win, but another loss and you could pretty much kiss the series goodbye.
The Capitals outshot the Lightning 38-23 but didn't help goaltender Braden Holtby with six minor penalties. The Lightning saw Steven Stamkos score on the power play in the first with Nikita Kucherov also finding the back of the net with the man advantage for a 2-0 lead to open the scoring in the second.
"For whatever reason, at this time of the year there are more distractions than in the regular season, for sure". You always want to step up. You can only play with fire so long before you get burnt.
It was true last round against Boston, when the linemates combined for two goals and an assist in a Game 4 road win. It was a clutch performance.
"We checked. That was it", he said. "The goal is to win a championship, but you can't look too far ahead". "We've made it a series".
Nearly nobody who saw Victor Hedman's first goal of these National Hockey League playoffs live and in person cheered or applauded or waved their towel, when the towering Tampa Bay Lightning defender one-timed the puck into a near-open net in the capital on Tuesday night.
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Victor Hedman upped the lead to 3-0 at 3:37 with Brayden Point giving the Bolts a 4-1 edge with his tally at 16:03 of the second period. I didn't think we were as focused as we have been normally on the road.
Kucherov got his first of the series, scoring on a one-timer on the power play. The Capitals are feeling confident right now, but after falling behind 0-2 on home ice in the first round and roaring back to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets, they understand how fast things can swing. 3-1, in favor of the Lightning. Now that Tampa Bay was in charge, you could feel the knot in the players' stomachs start to loosen.
The Lightning under Cooper haven't lost the first two games of a series since 2014, when they were swept in the first round by the Montreal Canadiens.
Which power-play blast did Cooper like better? And then, with the Capitals still reeling, he set up Hedman in the slot a couple of minutes later.
"The big thing for us is, and I think it's worked I guess in the three games, the team that gets the lead is the team that's in the driver's seat", Cooper said. That's how we've advanced. "They bring you energy in good ways, but at the same time, you need to stay realistic and play your game".
Meanwhile, the Capitals' vaunted power play, which features Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, T.J. Oshie, Lars Eller (in Backstrom's place) and John Carlson on the top half, failed to convert on one opportunity in every period.
Then there was Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy. Part of it was Vasilevskiy, who made the big saves when he needed to, but the bigger difference was that the Lightning was not constantly putting their goalie in a position to bail them out of trouble. They still lead the series 2-1.