They say that lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same spot. The Tampa Bay Lightning proved that theory wrong over the weekend by registering road wins in the first two games of their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Washington Capitals.
Tampa Bay will attempt to take a 3-0 series lead Tuesday at the St. Pete Times Forum, with the Versus network televising the matchup starting at 3:30 p.m. (PT).
Most sports books monitored by Don Best Sports’ Real-Time Odds have opened the game at a ‘pick,’ with each team minus 110. The total is set at five ‘under’ (minus 130).
Tampa Bay was outplayed, outshot (37-23) and undermanned in Sunday’s Game 2, but still managed a 3-2 overtime victory thanks to the stellar play of goalie Dwayne Roloson.
The combined five goals dipped ‘under’ the 5 ½-goal closing total after Game 1 skipped ‘over’ the closing number.
The 41-year-old Roloson made 35 saves, several of the outstanding variety. Roloson, a midseason acquisition by general manager Steve Yzerman, leads the playoffs with six wins and a .947 save percentage. He is second with a 1.80 goals-against average.
Roloson is 4-2-1 with a 1.53 goals-against average, two shutouts and a .948 save percentage in seven games this season against the Capitals. That includes one win when he was with the Islanders earlier this season.
The Lightning, playing without injured left wing Simon Gagne and defenseman Pavel Kubina, stole the win when Vinny Lecavalier scored 6:19 into the extra period. Washington got caught on a line change, and Teddy Purcell's cross-ice pass found Lecavalier alone in front of the net.
It was Lecavalier's second goal of the game. His power-play goal on a sizzling one-timer from the right faceoff circle gave Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead with 56.5 seconds left in the first period.
Washington outshot Tampa Bay in the second period, 16-3. The three shots tied a Tampa Bay playoff record for fewest shots in a period.
Tampa Bay’s penalty kill was a perfect 6-for-6 in Game 2. Roloson made 12 of his 35 saves when the Lightning were shorthanded. The club has now killed off 45-of-46 penalties during the current playoff campaign.
Success on the penalty kill is nothing new for the Lightning. They had an 83.8 percent success rate during the regular season, which ranked eighth.
Brook Laich and Alexander Ovechkin provided Washington’s offense with one goal apiece. Ovechkin’s marker came with 1:07 remaining the third period to tie the game 2-2.
Michal Neuvirth, who made 20 saves for Washington in a losing cause, saw his overall record slip to 31-14-2-2 with a 2.35 GAA and .916 save percentage.
The Capitals do not arrive in Tampa Bay with a completely healthy roster. The Don Best Sports injury report lists both left wing Simon Gagne and defenseman Pavel Kubina “questionable” with head injuries they suffered in Game 1.
Tampa Bay defenseman Dennis Wideman, who hasn’t played in the postseason yet, is “questionable” with a leg injury.
Despite suffering losses in the first two games of this series, the Capitals are still 19-7 in their last 26 meetings against the Lightning. Additionally, the Caps are 10-2 in their last 12 trips to Tampa Bay.
The ‘over’ is 7-3-2 in Tampa Bay’s last 12 contests. The Lightning are 5-0 in their last five playoff games as an underdog.