Final-second goals? Soul-crushing, momentum-changing back-breakers

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) looks on as the Capitals celebrate an Evgeny Kuznetsov (92) second-period. (DIRK SHADD | Times)
Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) looks on as the Capitals celebrate an Evgeny Kuznetsov (92) second-period. (DIRK SHADD | Times)
Published May 13
Updated May 14

TAMPA — All goals count the same on the scoreboard, but for the second game in a row, the Capitals showed how crushing a score in the final seconds of a period can be as a dramatic shift in momentum.

On Friday night, Alex Ovechkin scored with six seconds left in the first period for a 2-0 Washington lead. And on Sunday, the Capitals did it again. They earned a power play with 10 seconds left in the second, then scored with three seconds left for a 4-2 lead.

"It's huge," Capitals forward Brett Connolly said. "It's a big momentum-killer for them. Everybody's been on that side of it. It's tough when you give up a goal in the last 10, 15 seconds. Big goal for us."

Columnist Tom Jones and staff writer Roger Mooney break down the Lightning’s 6-2 loss in Game 2 and Tampa Bay’s predicament heading to Washington.

Posted by Tampa Bay Times - Sports on Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Lightning had led 2-1 after one period, but Washington tied early in the second. The real trouble started when Lars Eller scored for a 3-2 lead with 1:02 left in the second.

Pressure around the net led to Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy being called for a tripping penalty — normally a power play with 10 seconds left in a period only means a team must open the next period on extended penalty kill. Instead, a wide shot from Evgeny Kuznetsov in the corner went in off Vasilevskiy's skate.

"It's always hard when you give up goals at the end of a period," Kuznetsov said.

By the end of the game, frustration was obvious, even in the Lightning's best players, which the Capitals took as a small victory beyond the 2-0 series lead.

"They look like they're frustrated a little bit over there," Connolly said. "It's a long series. They have a great team, a lot of guys over there that are gamers and they're not going to quit. You see (Nikita) Kucherov kind of kick me there at the end. That's what you want: You want their star players to be frustrated. He's a hell of a player. You have to play him hard."

Contact Greg Auman at [email protected] and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman

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