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."
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman