Capitals not ruling out Nicklas Backstrom for Game 3

Lightning vs. Capitals odds, Game 3: Data scientist who's 22-7 releases 2018 NHL playoffs picks

The Lightning under Cooper haven't lost the first two games of a series since 2014, when they were swept in the first round by the Montreal Canadiens.

The Lightning were the presumptive top seed in the Eastern Conference since they came out the gates flying in the opening month of the season, but looked like anything but favorites in dropping the opening two games of the series. Vasilevskiy had 36 saves in the 4-2 win, stymieing the Capitals offensive power from the first two games and advancing the series to 2-1 to ensure the Lightning will return home at least one more time. "There's no panic. We're obviously not happy with losing two games on home ice, but that is not something that goes into our locker room". When you have a really good team like they do across the way, if you're going to give them open ice to make their plays, that team will kill you - and they did it for two games. Those last-second power play goals, including a buzzer-beater, aren't exactly routine, especially in back-to-back games.

Sure, the Lightning had a brief lead in Game 2 from about the midpoint of the first period to early in the second.

If the Lightning can't figure out how to fix many of their problems from the net out, it'll be a short series.

If Stamkos' power-play goal to open the scoring was the game's most important, certainly Point's marker was the timeliest goal.

"Thats just guys sacrificing their body for the team", center Brayden Point said.

The Lightning had four All-Stars this season with Stamkos joined by right-wing Nikita Kucherov, defenseman Victor Hedman, and goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, and all four combined to hand the Lightning a dominant 3-0 lead early in the second period. And Evgeny Kuznetsov netted an odd-angled attempt with about three minutes left.

Keeping them scoreless was never more crucial than in the first 10 minutes, when most of the game was played in the Lightning's end.

"We have so much confidence in (him)", Stamkos said.

The Capitals are now 38-40 in the postseason at Capital One Arena, the Wizards marginally better at 17-15. I mean, that being said, I think we should be probably mentally stronger to not let that affect us.

"When you're in a situation like we were, we needed to do it tonight". It's been a heck of a run with - we really haven't changed our lineup at all in getting to this point. You have to make adjustments at some point to give your team what you feel is the best chance to succeed. It wouldn't have taken much to ignite the home crowd, get the players feeding off the frenzy and vice versa, and shoving the Lightning into a hole that would be almost impossible to climb out of. "It just happened to work out for us". "The goal is to win a championship, but you can't look too far ahead".

"We know exactly what we have to do", Alexander Ovechkin said. "We've made it a series".

Backstrom participated in the morning skate on Tuesday and before a 6-2, Game 2 win at Tampa Bay on Sunday. "There's no secret. We've dug ourselves a hole here, but by no means is it something that we can't overcome".

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