Caps' Backstrom back for Game 4 of East final vs. Lightning

Caps' Backstrom back for Game 4 of East final vs. Lightning

With a win in Game 4 on Thursday, the Washington Capitals can take a 3-1 over the Tampa Bay Lightning in the NHL's Eastern Conference finals.

As the series shifts back to Tampa for Game Five on Saturday, the Lightning know that if they manage the puck and execute well, they will not be fueling this unsafe Washington attack. The Caps nearly doubled up their opposition in shots, had four fruitless man advantages, and held the Lightning shotless for a full twenty minutes.

Backstrom had four shots on goal and won 6 of 9 faceoffs, but the Capitals fell to Tampa Bay 4-2. In particular, the goalies came to play. The road teams are 2-0 in this series. For the first time in the series, the outcome wasn't obvious until the final minute of play - although it should have been.

Hear the highlights of Game 4 (below) as called by John Walton and Ken Sabourin on the Capitals Radio Network. Game five will be played in Tampa on Saturday night.

They failed to take advantage of Lightning penalty killers running on fumes. However, unlike on Tuesday, they got one puck through Vasilevskiy early. "They ask what the series is at, and we came in here and regardless of how well Washington played - which, I think they played really well - we found a way to win two games". From Dmitri Orlov's opening goal until the first Lightning penalty at 11:40, the Bolts outshot the Caps, 6-2, and netted two goals. It marked the 12th time in 16 games this spring that the Capitals opened the scoring.

This was the latest showdown between the highest-scoring team in the regular season (Tampa Bay) and the top offense in the postseason (Washington). "You have Kuch (Nikita Kucherov) on the other side of him doing the same thing for the most part so it is definitely a threat our power play possess".

That stretch was part of a chunk of almost 21 full minutes of game time - the last 10:41 of the first period, followed by the initial 10:11 of the second - during which Tampa Bay did not put a shot on net.

It was as if the Capitals had briefly forgotten what had given them success.

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After his score, Killorn said, "We played our best hockey".

Here are three keys to the game. Often, it's a lethal power play that carries a team to the title.

It wasn't quite that bad. Here he is reacting to a missed opportunity in the second period. The Lightning's captain now has a power-play goal in each of this series' first four games, and his team has capitalized on the power play at least once in each of the past nine contests.

Of course, the team made up for it by dominating the five-on-five game. Gourde one-timed a pass to Brayden Point at the left circle and Point whistled the puck into the net.

Team doctors cleared Backstrom to play around lunchtime, and by pregame warmups he was drawing an ovation from fans thrilled to see him back in the lineup. And soon enough, the rest of the Capitals followed. They registered 38 shots to Tampa Bay's 20.

Based on the shot attempts, Washington should have had plenty more. Because of Andrei Vasilevskiy, who chose to take on the game-stealer role.

Backstrom is the Capitals' second-longest-tenured player behind Ovechkin, and they're in the conference finals for the first time in their 10th playoff appearance.