For the third time in four years, the Tampa Bay Lightning are in the Eastern Conference Final and the Washington Capitals are in their first ECF in 20 years.
The two teams meet in Game 1 of the ECF on Friday at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida.
Tampa Bay earned its spot in the ECF by dispatching New Jersey and Boston in five games each. Washington has faced a tougher road, rallying from a 0-2 deficit to beat Columbus and needing six games again to eliminate the two-time reigning Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh.
The ECF is loaded with offensive firepower. The Lightning led the NHL in scoring and the Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin’s 49 goals led the league. His 15 points lead Washington in the playoffs and his eight goals are second behind Winnipeg’s Mark Scheifele for the playoff lead among active skaters. Washington’s Evgeny Kuznetsov’s 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) also rank fourth in the playoffs, while Nikita Kucherov (12 points) is the only Tampa Bay player in the top 10.
In net, former Vezina Trophy winner Braden Holtby has a 2.04 goals against average and .926 save percentage in the playoffs for Washington. Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy has a 2.20 GAA and .927 save percentage.
The Lightning won the regular-season series against Washington 2-1. Tampa Bay won 4-3 in overtime at the start of the season, then fell 3-1 in November and won 4-2 in February.
How to watch Friday’s game:
Stanley Cup playoffs schedule
|Game 5: Washington at Vegas||WSH 3-1||7 p.m.||NBC|
SB Nation sites to follow on Twitter:
Washington (@JapersRink) at Tampa Bay (@RawCharge)