Let's do it one more time, shall we?
Game 7 it will be.
If it matches Game 6, it will be extraordinary.
The Lightning could not close the door on the Washington Capitals. The Caps, who apparently really don't want to lose this series, won a pressurized Game 6, physical and emotional, 3-0. The Caps had never beaten the Lightning in Washington in a playoff series. They simply outplayed Tampa Bay. The Lightning couldn't match Washington's intensity.
Now they're both desperate.
So, it's Game 7 on Wednesday night at Amalie Arena. Home ice means nothing in the playoffs, but Lightning coach Jon Cooper has long said the only time it does matter is Game 7. Time to test that theory.
The door remains open.
The Lightning will have to come out harder than it did in Game 6.
The hits just kept on coming in Game 6. And that was just Alex Ovechkin, who was all over the ice in a bad mood. The Lightning went to the body, too, including Dan Girardi on Ovechkin (looked like interference actually). But don't say these teams didn't want to win this game. Grade: A
This was why
The Lightning had taken hold of this series by neutralizing Washington's power play. Washington didn't even have a power play in Game 4. So much for that. Braydon Coburn was sent to the box for hooking (questionable call) for Washington's first power play in more than 125 minutes of hockey. The Caps answer to that was a T.J. Oshie goal as he banged one past Andrei Vasilevskiy. Grade: D
The Lightning guns had no pop in Game 6. Nikita Kucherov had been stepping up his game, but the most noise he made in Game 6 was when his shot late in the second period banged off the goal post. Washington did a good job of neutralizing the Lightning's celebrated scorer, including a big Ovechkin hit on Kucherov. No. 86 had his head down at times in more ways than one. He'll have to answer in Game 7. So will Steven Stamkos, who also didn't make a dent in Game 6. Grade: C
What it takes
There was Ryan McDonagh blocking a Dmitry Orlov's shot with just about his face. In other news, Brayden Point saved a goal in the second period, keeping the Washington lead at 1-0, when he swooped in to knock a puck away from an empty goal as Vasilevskiy had his back to the play. Oshie was swooping in to finish the play, but Point won the play with heads-up hockey. Grade: A
Don’t blame the goalie
Vasilevskiy and Washington's Braden Holtby brought their best games. Vasilevskiy was wonderful. He made several large saves and Holtby did the same. Can't really blame Vasilevskiy on the Oshie goal. Give Holtby credit, too, especially when he stopped Anthony Cirelli's shot on a 2-on-1. Grade: B+
You can’t score without them
Washington outshot the Lightning 24-14 through two periods. The Lightning couldn't get consistent pressure and it showed in the numbers. Grade: C
Turns out Washington has a fourth line, too. It beat the Lightning to stave off icing. Coburn was overtaken by Washington's Chandler Stephenson, and it led to Devante Smith-Pelly goal for a 2-0 lead. Grade: F
Contact Martin Fennelly at [email protected] Follow @mjfennelly.