WASHINGTON (AP) - Victor Hedman scored his first goal of the playoffs and added two assists, and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 36 saves to help the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Washington Capitals 4-2 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final Tuesday night and cut their series deficit to 2-1.
Hedman had the primary assist on power-play goals by Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov and was a key part of three big penalty kills that gave Tampa Bay some much-needed momentum.
Vasilevskiy was on top of his game as the Capitals put 38 shots on net. Vasilevskiy made seven saves on the penalty kill alone to save a beleaguered unit that came in ranked 13th out of 16 playoff teams.
The Lightning would still like to cut down on the quality chances Vasilevskiy has to stop in Game 4 on Thursday and beyond, like the one Brett Connolly scored on after a turnover by Ondrej Palat. They also surrendered a six-on-five goal to Evgeny Kuznetsov with 3:02 left that made things interesting in the final minutes.
It was a hard-fought first period, with team captain Steven Stamkos finally scoring a power play goal with 6:07 left in the first.
Early in the second, Nikita Kucherov extended the lead with another power play goal. Then Victor Hedman made it 3-0 with an unassisted score.
The Caps got on the scoreboard midway through the second when Brett Connolly scored.
But then Brayden Point took the air back out of the arena with a score with 3:57 left on the period.
Evgeny Kuznetsov made it 4-2 with about 3 minutes remaining after Washington took out their goalie, but it was not enough, and the Bolts guaranteed the series will return to Tampa for at least one game..