Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning wins finale over Capitals, gets home ice for first round

WASHINGTON — As the back-door play developed for the Capitals during a second-period power play and sharpshooter Nicklas Backstrom redirected the puck at what appeared to be an open net, all Lightning coach Jon Cooper could do was hope.

"You're gasping, 'Please get across there,' " Cooper said.

And goaltender Anders Lindback did just that, stretching his right leg to make an improbable save.

"Ridiculous," Cooper said of the defining moment in Tampa Bay's 1-0 shootout victory Sunday at the Verizon Center.

The win, the Lightning's fourth straight to end the regular season, gave Tampa Bay (46-27-9) 101 points, second place in the Atlantic Division and home-ice advantage for its first-round playoff series against the Canadiens that starts Wednesday at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Defenseman Matt Carle scored the only goal in the shootout. But the story again was Lindback, who faced only 18 shots in the game — seven through the first two periods — but came up huge when called upon. He made three stops in the shootout, one on Alexander Ovechkin's through-the-legs trick shot.

"It's really nice to get this win," Lindback said. "It's nice for me coming in here, too, and to play good a couple of games. But overall, you look back at it, it's Ben (Bishop) that took us here. If it wouldn't be for him, we wouldn't be in this situation."

The same can be said of Lindback, who had played just 21 games before last week. But since coming in for Bishop, who went down with a left elbow injury in the first period Tuesday against the Maple Leafs, Lindback has stopped 77 of 79 shots and earned three wins.

"He's been unbelievable," captain Steven Stamkos said. "It's so rewarding for him to get this opportunity and play the way he has."

And it certainly is rewarding for the Lightning — which many predicted would not even make the playoffs — to tie the team record for wins and push past Montreal in the division and secure home ice.

"It feels good to be able to go home," Carle said. "I haven't experienced a playoff game in Tampa, but you hear stories from when they went on their (2004 Stanley Cup) run. The building sounds like it gets pretty rowdy. We're looking forward to that."

Said Stamkos: "Let's not kid ourselves. It doesn't matter where you play. The better team's going to win the game. But it is nice to go home, sleep in your own bed, play in front of your home fans. Ever since we made the playoffs, that was (our goal), to play really good hockey heading into the playoffs and get home ice, and we've attained both."

For Lindback, who was just 5-12-2 before his current streak, attaining consistency came down to better positioning and not overplaying the puck — in other words, letting the game come to him.

And that is just what he did on Ovechkin's tricky shootout move.

"I just try to be as patient as possible and not bite on the first move because they take advantage of that," Lindback said. "I stuck with it and made the save."

The save on Backstrom, though, that was all reaction and athleticism from the 6-foot-6 goalie.

"I just tried to get my pad there," he said and added, "I have very long legs."

"It's such a bang-bang play, and it happened so slow in your head," Cooper said. "Just a phenomenal save. He won us the game on that."

And home ice in the playoffs.

Lightning00001
Capitals00000
Lightning wins shootout 1-0
Lightning00001
Capitals00000
Lightning wins shootout 1-0

FirstNone. PenaltiesKuznetsov, Was (interference), 10:47.

SecondNone. PenaltiesNone.

ThirdNone. PenaltiesHedman, TB (delay of game), :53.

OTNone. PenaltiesNone. ShootoutTB 1 (Carle G, Kostka NG), Wash 0 (Kuznetsov NG, Ovechkin NG, Backstrom NG). Shots on GoalTB 11-12-8-1—32. Wash 3-4-11-0—18. Power-play opportunitiesTB 0 of 1; Wash 0 of 1. GoaliesTB, Lindback 8-12-2 (18 shots-18 saves). Wash, Holtby 23-15-4 (32-32).

Comments
The key to the Lightning’s success

The key to the Lightning’s success

This is quite the run the Lightning is on over the past five years.A playoff appearance in 2014. A trip to the Stanley Cup final in 2015. A return to the Eastern Conference final in 2016. A near-miss of the postseason last season. And now back in the...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Lightning Round 2 playoff tickets on sale Monday

Lightning Round 2 playoff tickets on sale Monday

Single-game tickets for the Lightning's Eastern Conference semifinal series go on sale to the general public at 1 p.m. Monday at nhl.com/lightning/tickets. The Lightning plays the winner of the Bruins-Maple Leafs series. Game 6 of that series is Mon...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Lightning has answer for Devils and David Puddy

Lightning has answer for Devils and David Puddy

You knew those who work the scoreboard for the Lightning games at Amalie Arena would have an answer Saturday during Game 5 to the Devils using David Puddy during Game 4 at the Prudential Center. Puddy meets Homer Simpson. Actually, Puddy met Terry ...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Andrei Vasilevskiy and the universal language of playoff hockey

Andrei Vasilevskiy and the universal language of playoff hockey

TAMPA — As usual, Andrei Vasilevskiy didn't speak in front of the cameras after the game. He has been like that since he hit the NHL. He still isn't comfortable with his English on TV.But Vasilevskiy spoke loudly and clearly in the first-round ...
Published: 04/22/18
Lightning-Devils: Grading Tampa Bay’s clinching 3-1 victory in Game 5

Lightning-Devils: Grading Tampa Bay’s clinching 3-1 victory in Game 5

TAMPA — Closers.That's what the Lightning looked like as it closed out the New Jersey Devils in five games with a 3-1 win Saturday.Nikita Kucherov's star power blazed again, the defense controlled the game and not even Jersey goaltend...
Published: 04/21/18
Updated: 04/22/18
Maple Leafs force Game 6 with Bruins

Maple Leafs force Game 6 with Bruins

BOSTON — Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk scored 1:19 apart in the second period, and then the Maple Leafs killed off a 5-on-3 and three more power plays in a row to beat the Bruins 4-3 in Game 5 on Saturday night and avoid playoff eliminatio...
Published: 04/21/18
Lightning-Devils: How the NHL’s top offense went on the defensive

Lightning-Devils: How the NHL’s top offense went on the defensive

TAMPA — It was a couple of days after the Lightning beat the Bruins at home late in the regular season when associate coach Rick Bowness talked about how the defensive effort used in that shutout victory was the one the Lightning would need in ...
Published: 04/21/18
Rookie? Lightning D Mikhail Sergachev’s playing like a seasoned pro

Rookie? Lightning D Mikhail Sergachev’s playing like a seasoned pro

TAMPA — Pardon Mikhail Sergachev if he isn't so good at one of hockey's greatest traditions. After all, growing a Stanley Cup playoff beard isn't easy when you're still just a teenager.As he stood in the Lightning locker room Saturday evening w...
Published: 04/21/18
Roger Mooney’s takeaways from the Lightning’s first-round series

Roger Mooney’s takeaways from the Lightning’s first-round series

TAMPA — In the postseason, teams want to bank days off so they are as fresh as can be for the next round. That's why it was so important for the Lightning to close out Jersey in five. The fewer the games, the less wear and tear on the body, les...
Published: 04/21/18
Lightning stays patient, even through 0-for-5 power-play drought

Lightning stays patient, even through 0-for-5 power-play drought

TAMPA — The Lightning so dominated the second period Saturday that the Devils had more penalties (five) than shots on goal (four), and yet Tampa Bay was unable to build on a 1-0 lead as they sought to clinch the opening-round series.Nowhere was...
Published: 04/21/18