Expert Cappers Picks
National Hockey League
Tampa Bay at Washington
When: 8:00 PM ET, Monday, May 21, 2018
Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, District of Columbia

The Washington Capitals looked unstoppable after posting two straight road victories to open the Eastern Conference finals, but one week later they are fighting for survival as they host the Tampa Bay Lightning for Game 6 on Monday night. The Capitals have dropped three straight, including Saturday’s 3-2 setback in Tampa Bay, as the Lightning moved within a victory of their third trip to the Stanley Cup finals and second in four years.

“A lot of people counted us out when we were down 0-2 (to Columbus) in the first round. Things got hard in the last series (against Pittsburgh) and we could have melted, and we just kept playing,” Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen told reporters. “So that’s what we’ve got to do again. Bring our best effort for Game 6 at home, win a game, and then we’ll go from there.” The Capitals battled back after falling behind 3-0 in Game 5, outshooting Tampa Bay 26-9 in the final 40 minutes, and hope to carry that momentum over on home ice where they are 3-5 in the postseason. The Lightning have won five of six on the road in the playoffs and goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy has been outstanding in three straight wins while turning aside 100 of the 106 shots he has faced to improve to 11-4 in the postseason, but they know there is plenty of work to do. “We have a lot of unfinished business. This isn’t even close to being over,” Tampa Bay right wing Ryan Callahan told reporters. “This last game is definitely the hardest. … To go in their building and try to close them out, it’s going to be tough.”

TV: NBC Sports Network, CBC, Sportsnet One, TVA

ABOUT THE LIGHTNING: Callahan, along with "fourth line" mates Cedric Paquette and Chris Kunitz, have played a big part defensively against the Alex Ovechkin unit the last three games and contributed two goals and two assists in Game 5. “They played a winning role for our team and they inspire everyone,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper told reporters. “They pull our team into the fight, that’s what they do.” Right wing Nikita Kucherov notched an assist in Game 5 to take over the team lead with 17 points, one better than captain Steven Stamkos and fellow center Brayden Point, while left wing Ondrej Palat has at least a point in three straight contests and 12 overall.

ABOUT THE CAPITALS: Washington gave up a goal in the first minute in each of the first two periods Saturday after trailing through the opening 20 minutes in both Game 3 and 4 at home, forcing it to chase the Lightning most of all three contests. “We know we’ve got to come out with a better start at home, give our fans something to cheer about, and play the brand of hockey at home that we’ve had so much success (at) over the past years to this point,” defenseman John Carlson told reporters. Center Evgeny Kuznetsov has scored in four consecutive games and owns at least a point in eight straight to break the franchise record for points in a single postseason (22).


1. Paquette’s goal Saturday was his first in the playoffs since the winning tally in Game 3 of the 2014-15 Stanley Cup finals against Chicago.

2. Washington C Nicklas Backstrom is a minus-2 with six shots on net in two games since returning from a hand injury that forced him to sit out four.

3. The Lightning failed on the only power play chance in Game 5, but are 6-for-15 in the series while the Capitals are 3-for-14 and haven’t converted since Game 2.

PREDICTION: Lightning 4, Capitals 3
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away Day Night Div
Tampa Bay 65-27-3-2 W3 35-13-2-0 30-14-1-2 7-2-0-0 58-25-3-2 22-9-1-1
Washington 59-31-8-1 L3 31-14-4-0 28-17-4-1 6-3-2-0 53-28-6-1 25-10-4-1
Last Meeting
Tampa Bay Washington
Date Away Home Shots Saves PP Shots Saves PP
5/19/18 WAS 2 TB 3 22 28 0-1 30 19 0-0
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Total Points Player  
Tampa Bay R. Callahan 2
Washington J. Carlson 1
Goals Player  
Tampa Bay R. Callahan 1
Washington E. Kuznetsov 1
Assists Player  
Tampa Bay R. Callahan 1
Washington J. Carlson 1
Saves Player  
Tampa Bay A. Vasilevskiy 28
Washington B. Holtby 19
Total Points Player  
Tampa Bay N. Kucherov 125
Washington E. Kuznetsov 110
Goals Player  
Tampa Bay N. Kucherov 49
Washington A. Ovechkin 60
Assists Player  
Tampa Bay N. Kucherov 76
Washington E. Kuznetsov 71
Saves Player  
Tampa Bay A. Vasilevskiy 2423
Washington B. Holtby 1976
Quickchart Matchup
Tampa Bay Off vs  Washington Def
3.51 GF
2.88 GA
32.2 Shots
31.3 Shots
82 PP
68 PK
Washington Off vs  Tampa Bay Def
3.18 GF
2.84 GA
29.8 Shots
32.6 Shots
71 PP
75 PK