I'm back after being away and super busy with work and tryouts. We are down to four. Let's take a look at who has survived.
The Caps took control of this game early when Michal Kempny's shot somehow found its way through a forest of players off the post and in. Vasilevskiy stood tall on a few tough shots to keep it a one goal game and the Lightning appeared to get one for him but the goal was called back when the refs noticed the Lightning had too many men on the ice. Holtby looked like he got caught in that awkward position of trying to make the save and also trying to not get murdered by Kucherov. There was 7 seconds left in the period when the Caps won a face-off in the Lightning zone on the powerplay and there was 6 seconds left in the period when the puck hit the back of the net off the cannon from Ovechkin. A big play just seconds before the period would expire. They followed up a strong first period by scoring less than three minutes into the third. The puck pinballed around and Jay Beagle was able to poke it through Vas' five-hole. This is why I don't fully understand all the hype behind + inches on pads. 99.9% of goals that go through the five-hole, do so because the goalie doesn't have their pads on the ice. Having an extra inch at the top of your pad is not going to solve those goals. A very similar play happened on the next goal as Ovechkin whiffed on the shot which started another pinball game. Vasilevskiy actually made the initial stop of Oshie but the Lightning defense was content on standing around and watching Lars Eller knock home the rebound.
Louis Domingue opened up the 3rd period in the crease for the Bolts and stopped all seven he faced. For the record, I literally thought Domingue was wearing Warrior pads. It turns out, he is just wearing E-Flex 3s with maybe the worst design I've ever seen. The Lightning finally cracked Holtby and it took an incredible cross-ice pass from Kucherov to Stamkos to do so. It looked like Holtby thought the pass was going to the slot and pushed out there but the pass went through to Stamkos on the far side. The pass and shot were so accurate and quick that Holtby had no chance to make the adjustment to get over for it. That's just what happens when you have two of the best players in the world connecting on the power play. Ondrej Palat followed that up by beating Holtby on the short side. When they show the view from behind you can see Holtby stop moving while Palat continues down the wing. This opened up the short side for a nice shot to beat him and Palat connected. At this point all Capitals fans began to bite off all their fingernails but the Caps held on for the 4-2 win.
The Caps came out flying early in Game 2 as Tom Wilson scored before they could even put the time and score up on the top left of the screen. The goal came on a nice deflection from a shot from the point. From there, the Lightning began strking. Holtby held them off for a bit but the Lightning scored twice to go up 2-1 to end the first. Vasilevskiy may have had PTSD watching the first goal as a Stamkos one-timer hit a Cap penalty killer and ricocheted right to Brayden Point, very similar to the two goals the Caps scored in Game 1. The second came on the power play - Kucherov cross-ice to Stamkos for the one-timer. I feel like I've typed that once or twice or three hundred times this postseason. Holtby and Vas traded saves until Devonte Smith-Pelly hammered home a one-timer on a 3-on-1. A bang-bang play off the stick of Lars Eller made it 3-2 heading into the 3rd period but the Caps had one more in them before time ran out. I'm not sure why Vasilevskiy opted to go with the paddle-down on this one but it severely limited his mobility and net coverage. On top of that, he ended up blocking the pass right between his own legs but has no idea that he's done it (keep your eyes on the puck, kids!). A couple of strong saves to start the third made things look a little more optimistic for the Bolts but another 2-on-1 leads to Ovechkin burying his 10th goal of the postseason and Connoly's wrister leads to the stands starting to clear out. The bouncing puck makes it tough to read the shot off the stick but from that far out, it's tough to justify getting beat clean. Vasilevskiy made some strong saves but definitely needs to be sharper as Holtby has outplayed every opponent he's faced so far.
It didn't take long for things to heat up in Winnipeg as Dustin Byfuglien crushed a slapshot by Marc Andre Ffeury (who was about ten feet out of the net and ten feet off angle) just 65 seconds into the game. The home teem didn't waste any time following up just over five minutes later when Blake Wheeler connected with Patrik Laine to make it 2-0. This is a tough save either way but I'm not sure why Fleury went down on the post here. The RVH definitely hindered his ability to push across. Fleury came up with a huge save less than a minute later but, unfortunately, the puck took a rough bounce off is own player just seconds after the big save to make it 3-0. I don't understand at all how this one is not goaltender interference. Especially since the call on the ice was no-goal. A whole 35 seconds later, the Knights go their first tally when Hellebyuck whiffed on a wrister from the top of the circle. After the first period ended and everybody took a deep inhale and exhale, it took 10 whole minutes for someone to strike in the 2nd. It was Byfuglien again from the point but this time Scheifele got his stick on it and altered the path of the puck just enough for it to sneak under Fleury's glove. Later in the 2nd, William Karlsson directed a Jonathan Marchessault pass past a sliding Hellebyuck and that would be, surprisingly, all the scoring we would see in the game. This is another tough save but Hellebyuck doesn't do himself any favors by not squaring up before he slides. Overall there was only 47 shots on goal between the two teams. Hopefully we get the goalie dual we've wanted in Game 2.
The Jets tried to open the scoring early again but Fleury shut down Mark Sheifele with a nice shoulder save. Fleury and Hellebyuck traded saves until Tomas Tatar followed up his own miss by stuffing it in past Hellebyuck. This is definitely a weird as the puck changed direction a bunch of times which got Hellebyuck off balance and Tatar had some pretty nifty hands on the play. Later in the first, Jonathan Marchessault got Hellebyuck opened up on a breakaway and put it five-hole, which seems to be the way to go on Hellebyuck in tight. The goaltenders went back to trading nice saves throughout a scoreless second. The third goal hit Fleury square in the chest then Flubbered it's way through him and into the net. Sometimes the universe is a cruel place. The Knights wouldn't let it remain a 1 goal game for long, however, as Jonathan Marchessault took a 2-on-1 cross ice pass and went backhand over Hellebyuck to put the final tally on the board.