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NHL Playoffs: Capitals Fall at Home to Lightning

16 May 2018, 12:47 | Percy Christensen

The nation of Qatar will pay for the DC Metro to remain open after Capitals playoff game

NHL Playoffs 2018: Washington Capitals are the new favorites to win the Stanley Cup

And for a moment - and almost the next 40 minutes after - the criticism that had peppered Vasilevskiy in the first two games of this series came to a screeching halt.

Washington Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom did not play in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final against the Tampa Bay Lightning because of a hand injury.

On Tuesday, Evans told The Washington Post that the tiny, wealthy nation of Qatar has agreed to pay the $100,000 fee to keep Metro open until 12:30 a.m. on Thursday, when the Capitals host Game 4.

"I think as soon as they got the lead, we tried to rush plays, make some plays through the neutral zone, " said Washington star Alex Ovechkin, who took nine shots but never connected.

Washington goalie Braden Holtby stopped 19 shots.

Stamkos ripped a power-play goal at 13:53 of the first period, on an assist from Victor Hedman. Nikita Kucherov extended the lead to 2-0 with a goal 1:50 into the second period.

The Capitals cut the lead to 3-1 on a Brett Connolly goal that ignited the home crowd.

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And as they have in other critical junctures of this postseason, the Lightning relied on their best players to rise to the occasion and rescue a series that had been firmly in their opponents' grasp. Coach Barry Trotz said Backstrom was a game-time decision before each of the games in the conference final.

"I'm put in a position to produce, and I put that pressure on myself to do it", said Hedman, who has a goal and 10 assists during an eight-game point streak. Washington has to find a way to stay out of the box or, at the very least, give Stamkos and Kucherov less time and space on the power play.

"We've thought about different things, but for me and our staff, we don't feel it's a personnel issue with how things are going", he said.

Backstrom has participated in morning skates with the Capitals, but has not taken line rushes or any time with their power-play units.

This isn't to say the Caps played poorly and still won in those games because of fluky goals. The Lightning held the Devils to 7 goals in the Lightning's four wins [VIDEO] in the opening round and preventing the Bruins from scoring a 5-on-5 goal for the final three games of their series.

"It's hard to cover all of them", Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman said. I don't know who you're grouping in the top players, but you think of Kucherov and Stamkos, those guys leading the charge, when we've needed them in the big games ... those guys have delivered when we've needed them. Those last-second power play goals, including a buzzer-beater, aren't exactly routine, especially in back-to-back games. Even with the horrendous calls in the first period of Game 2, the Caps prevailed, and it wasn't even close.

This was how it should be for Tampa Bay.



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