TAMPA — Hello, hole.
It is wide and deep, and the stunned Lightning are in it, firmly, two games down after blowing an early lead for another obliterating home loss to the Capitals. This time it was 6-2, this one worse than the first.
Overcoming an opening-minute Caps goal Sunday wasn't enough.
Two gift power plays and the Lightning goals that followed weren't enough.
The Capitals were too much, again. They were better, again, jumping all over this game at the end of the second period, two late goals, daggers both. By the third period, it was a clinic. Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin were playing catch and Ovechkin was blasting this one into a blowout.
And now they head to Washington for two games.
I still think the Penguins might come back to beat the Capitals.
But the Caps are rolling, and the Lightning is reeling. It's been that simple thus far.
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 enormous task is now at hand. The Lightning has come from 0-2 down in a playoff series only once in its history — in 2003 against the Capitals. The Lightning lost the first two games of that series at home, too.
Enough with the history lesson.
There is nothing to say, only to do.
The Lightning couldn't hold onto a 2-1 lead, and it collapsed late in the second period. Two Washington goals in the final 1:02 of the second period, from Lars Eller in front, then Kuznetsov's bad-angle tally that beat Andrei Vasilevskiy three second before the horn. It was the second straight crushing Washington goal at the end of a period in as many games. Again, the game turned on it. Defensive breakdowns in front of the Lightning net didn't help. Grade: F
Better, but not enough
At least the Lightning came at the Capitals to start the night. But the Caps came back and suddenly the Lightning was under siege again. And the home team passed up too many shots when they were in Washington's end. Also: No Yanni Gourde, no Tyler Johnson, no Victor Hedman (zero playoff goals). Too many guys didn't show up. Grade: C
You just can't give up goals in the final seconds of a period, Roger Mooney writes, especially when you're trailing. #TBLightning #GoBolts #ALLCAPS #TBLvsWSH @tb_times @rogermooney50 https://t.co/LyZCJ7iXdq— TampaBayTimesSports (@TBTimes_Sports) May 14, 2018
Big boy pads
Vasilevskiy can't let that Kuznetsov goal get past him. Or the ones after that. Somehow, some way, he has to make the stop. It was a horrible moment in a crucial game and a notch against the kid who the Lightning bet on before the season. He has been up to it all season and made some good stops after being yanked from Game 1. But now it's about keeping the season alive. Vasilevskiy has allowed 10 goals in fewer than five periods. He is up against it. Grade: D
Lousy officiating led two Lightning power plays. Chris Kunitz hooked Washington's Tom Wilson before Wilson was called for goalie interference, and T.J. Oshie didn't high stick Victor Hedman, who took a puck to the mouth. The officials missed it. But the Lightning capitalized on both. Brayden Point fired a rebound from a blocked shot into a near-empty net, and Nikita Kucherov fed Steven Stamkos for a one-timer. Who would have thought the Lightning would get a goal from Stamkos in the first two games and lose both of them? Grade: F/A
Where was the intensity up 2-1? Where was the jam, the push? The Lightning looked a bunch of kids instead of veteran-led. The Bolts curled into a ball and let Ovechkin, Kuznetsov and the Caps get in their face and stay there, which was the losing ticket in Game 1. Grade: F.
At least we had Doc
This must be said: The best thing about getting this far into the playoffs is that we are now totally on Mike Emrick's watch. Hockey just sounds better the man they call "Doc," who is as modest and kind as he is eloquent. Emrick is hockey's Vin Scully. There is no one better. Period. Grade: A
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Contact Martin Fennelly at [email protected] or (813) 731-8029. Follow @mjfennelly