Victor Hedman finished with three points and Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 36 shots as the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Washington Capitals 4-2 in game three of the Eastern Conference final series on Tuesday.
Hedman had a goal and an assist as the Lightning scored twice on the power play and cut the Capitals best-of-seven series lead to two games to one. He had an assist on power play goals by Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov and helped kill three penalties.
“I’m put in a position to produce, and I put that pressure on myself to do it,” said Hedman. “For me, it’s about being effective at all ends of the ice and trying to be a difference-maker every time I step on it.”
Hedman has a goal and 10 assists during an eight-game point streak.
“We can’t describe how good he is out there,” said Stamkos of Sweden’s Hedman. “We rely on him a tonne, he’s a horse and most nights if he’s going well, we’re going well as a team.
“Another big effort for him tonight, and you could see we all followed suit.”
Vasilevskiy bounced back from a subpar game two to deliver a strong performance as host Washington peppered him with 38 shots, including seven on the penalty kill in front of a crowd of 18,500 at the Capital One Arena.
Brett Connolly and Evgeny Kuznetsov scored goals for the Capitals, who are 7-1 in the playoffs on the road following a dominating 6-2 win in game two in Florida.
Connolly took advantage of a turnover by Tampa’s Ondrej Palat halfway through the second period while Kuznetsov made things interesting, scoring his ninth goal of the playoffs with just over three minutes left in the third. Brayden Point also scored for the Lightning, who won the most games in the NHL during the regular season. Kucherov’s goal snapped a seven-game scoreless drought for him.
Washington goaltender Braden Holtby surrendered four goals on 23 shots.
The Lightning victory means the series will now go back to Tampa for game five. But first, the teams will clash Thursday night with the Capitals hoping to regroup from this loss.
The Capitals played without Swedish forward Nicklas Backstrom, who missed his fourth straight game with a right hand injury.
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