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Capitals Look to Bounce Back in Pivotal Game 4 Against Lightning

The Capitals Alexander Ovechkin
Ovie and the Caps have taken home-ice advantage and jumped out to an early 1-0 series lead. (Wiki Commons) [CC License]
  • The Capitals have lost their first home game of each series in the 2018 playoffs
  • Tampa Bay took one game on the road against the Devils and both against the Bruins
  • Before Games 1 and 2 of the Eastern Conference Final, the Lightning hadn’t lost back-to-back games since late March

Despite a setback on Tuesday night, the Washington Capitals have a second chance to do something they haven’t done in 20 years. At Capital One Arena on Thursday night (8:00 PM EST), the Caps will have a shot at winning a game, at home, during the Conference Finals.

Victor Hedman (three points), Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov (two points each) spoiled the party in Game 3, after Washington stole home ice advantage. While that seemed like a big deal at the time, it looks like home ice doesn’t mean all that much in the 2018 NHL playoffs.

Opening Odds

Moneyline Puckline Over/Under
Lightning +1.5 (-300) Lightning (-110) Over (6, -115)O
Capitals -1.5 (+250) Capitals (-110) Under (6, -105)U

Road Sweet Road

A running theme throughout the postseason has been road teams winning. Through the first two rounds of the playoffs, the Caps and Bolts combined to go 8-2 on the road.

Through three games, the road team has won each one despite being the underdog. Tampa was favored in their two home games and Washington in their one.

The big difference for the Lightning, other than playing in unfamiliar territory, was the performance of Andrei Vasilevskiy. Vasilevskiy badly struggled through the first two games against the Caps.

After giving up 10 goals across those two games, Vasilevskiy weathered an early Capitals attack in Game 3, and backstopped his team to a 36-save, 4-2 win. He’ll need to channel that Game 3 performance once again.

Lightning
VS
Capitals

1 Wins 2
8 Goals For 12
25.0 (Road) Powerplay % 29.6 (Home)
76.2 (Road) Penalty Kill % 71.4 (Home)
7 Wins when scoring first 8

Power Up

Both teams are thriving on the man advantage both in the playoffs and, specifically, this series.

In all three games, one team has scored two power play goals. That team has ended up winning twice. Washington went 2/4 with the man advantage in Game 1, while Tampa was 2/4 in Game 2. When the Lightning stole Game 3, they did it by scoring two power play goals on five chances.

Washington was shorthanded five times that game, and has had to kill off 12 penalties in the Eastern Conference Finals. If they want to avoid a second home upset, then they have to find a way to curtail the penalties.

After back-to-back two point efforts in Games 1 and 2, Alex Ovechkin was held scoreless in Game 3. He’s two (19) shy of his career-high 21 playoff points (2008/09).

They’ve taken a league best worst 55 penalties in the playoffs, averaging 3.6 penalty kills a game. Despite that, they have the second-best PK remaining in the playoffs (74.5%). It drops to 71.4% at home.

Who’s In, Who’s Out?

LIGHTNING CAPITALS
Adam Erne (Lower body): Out indefinitely Nicklas Backstrom (Hand): Day-to-day

The Prediction

Capitals 4, Lightning 3

Road teams keep winning. In the second round, road teams went 14-10 in round two. A strange trend when such a big deal is made about home ice advantage and last change.

Washington will take penalties. That isn’t about to change. While the Lightning will pounce on their power play opportunities, they’re not averse to taking penalties either.

This one will be high-scoring like the others, but the Caps will put the pressure on the Lightning like they did in Game 3. This time it works. Take the home team and the over.

Author Image

Bryan fell in love with sports watching Roy Halladay come within an inch of a no-hitter, and has spent the past decade turning this love into a career. He brings eight years editing with TSN and nine years of on-air work with Rogers Media to his odds and game analysis here at SportsBettingDime.