The Lightning extended their streak of consecutive games with a power-play goal to seven and have 11 total in that time.
Vasilevskiy had come under scrutiny after yielding six goals in the Game 2 loss, but his teammates and coaches remained committed to a goalie many view as a Vezina Trophy front-runner for the league's top goaltender.
It wasn't flawless, but it was a more complete effort from Tampa Bay, which jumped out to a 2-0 lead before Brett Connolly answered for Washington in the second. "It's how we're playing and our effort, our game plan".
Asked what the Lightning needed to do better, three-time Cup-winning defenseman Ken Daneyko responded, "Where do we begin?" "Obviously, you can see we didn't score, they scored". It wasn't ideal, but the Lightning began to make it up to Vasilevskiy for hanging him out to dry on so many odd-man rushes in Games 1 and 2 by improving their defensive-zone play.
Dustin Byfuglien scored just 1:05 into the game. "There's no secret. We've dug ourselves a hole here, but by no means is it something that we can't overcome". Now that Tampa Bay was in charge, you could feel the knot in the players' stomachs start to loosen.
"It wasn't really fair for him the first couple and we really didn't do a good job in front of him so it was big", defenseman Anton Stralman said.
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As clinically as Tampa Bay eliminated New Jersey and Boston in five games apiece, Washington is rolling behind the scoring of Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov and the goaltending of Braden Holtby, who has stopped 52 of 56 shots through two games. They can even things up in Washington on Thursday night. May.
William Karlsson scored a power-play goal late in the second to cut the lead to two again, but Winnipeg shut down the Golden Knights from there to finish off the 4-2 win.
"He's going to have to be great", said Keith Jones, a former National Hockey League forward and current NBC Sports analyst. "Vasilevskiy's going to have to play unbelievably well unless the Capitals take a step back". Cooper sounded confident of a turnaround.
As Cooper had said of Games 1 and 2: "It's 2-on-1 after 2-on-1". But we're not done.
The team has jumped out to an early 2-0 series lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Finals and will return home to Washington tonight at 8:00 p.m. for Game Three. He wants the Lightning to be feeling better but not too good still down 2-1.