Nikita Kucherov relishes chance to face Alex Ovechkin in East Final

NHL Playoffs 2018: Capitals' Nicklas Backstrom, Andre Burakovsky game-time decisions for Game 1 against Lightning

It could have been worse. As the best Eastern Conference team throughout the season, Tampa Bay is a pretty sizable favorite to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 2015.

The Capitals built a 4-0 lead thanks to two goals in each of the first two periods.

"It's unfortunate how we played a couple of these Game 1s in the last couple of rounds, (and) dug ourselves a small hole this series", the coach said after a workout Saturday at the team's suburban practice facility.

"We can't keep playing with fire", he said.

The Golden Knights played a different type of series in the second round against the Sharks, as goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was exposed a bit, as he conceded three or more goals in four games.

T.J. Oshie won the faceoff to the left of Vasilevskiy. Now in his first playoff run, Sergachev has scored twice for the Lightning. I can't see this series going less than six games since the Jets finished second in the west with 114 points, and the Knights right behind them with 109 points. Instead, Washington slowed down the Tampa Bay attack through the neutral zone and when pucks got in deep the Capitals quickly transitioned the play up the ice.

The Lightning never felt like they gave themselves a chance Friday. They dominated the New Jersey Devils in five games in the first round, while also knocking off a surging Boston Bruins team in as many games in round two. He did so in his standard flat tone with his gaze fixed on something distant, as if waiting for Ovechkin to one-time another puck his way.

"We tried to take it to them in their building and carry that momentum throughout the game". Defensively, the Tampa Bay Lighting are allowing 2.9 goals per game and are killing 76.1 percent of their opponents power plays.

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When asked if it is easy to put a tough playoff loss behind him, he said, "It's not easy, but I have to do that".

"Unlike Game 1 against Boston, when we did a lot of good things, I didn't think that was the case tonight at all", he said.

When asked his reaction to being pulled for backup Louis Domingue, he said, "Umm ..." In particular, Ovechkin played with the freedom of a man who had been waiting his entire career to for this moment.

Minutes later, the Penguins would take advantage of a face-off win from Sidney Crosby where Kris Letang would one-time one in past Braden Holtby to tie the game at 1 a piece.

With the Washington Capitals moving into the Eastern Conference final Monday, three of the four participants for the conference final round are set, with Tampa Bay and Vegas already in place.

"Alex has a bigger sweet spot than most people, so it doesn't have to totally be in his wheelhouse", said Capitals head coach Barry Trotz.

Capitals center Lars Eller, who scored off a scramble in front of the net, said his team did its homework on Vasilevskiy. "At the same time we've got to realize Tampa Bay is going to have some desperation in their game". "He can beat you one-on-one like a forward and it is not something you see, especially from young defensemen". By the end of 40 minutes, the Caps were up 4-0.

"We were crying tears of joy and letting out high pitched screams and being the most excited we've ever been in our lives", Wood said about their immediate reaction to the win.

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