The Washington Capitals pulled out a stunning 4-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in their first game in the Eastern Conference Finals since 1998. Here are my four takeaways from the Game 1 victory.
Dominant first period
The Caps played a perfect “road period” to start the series. They weathered the storm (no pun intended) that was Tampa’s opening surge. Despite some bad turnovers, the Caps were able to hang on until Michal Kempny scored 7:28 in.
It has been well documented this postseason that the Caps have struggled with two-goal leads. On Friday night, Washington showed that they can handle being up 2-0 in a postseason game. Jay Beagle’s goal early in the third displayed that the Caps were not going to just sit back and let the Bolts edge their way into the game.
Playing the full 60
When the Caps went up 4-0 after the second, it appeared like they had the game in the bag. The problem is, they played like it too. I thought the Caps played a good 50-minute game. It seemed like the first 10 minutes of the third, the Caps were already thinking about Game 2 when they should have been focused on finishing Game 1.
The saying “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard” was epitomized in Game 1. Whenever there was a loose puck, it seemed like the Caps were the first ones there. There is little doubt that Tampa Bay is the deeper team, but on Friday, they were clearly outworked by the Caps. For the Capitals to win this series, they will need to continue to outwork the Lightning.
The Capitals dominated the Lightning for most of the game and for them to have any success in this series that will need to continue. DC will need to be tenacious and relentless to get past the highly talented Lightning. They may have given the fan base a scare on Friday when a four-goal lead was suddenly cut in half, but if they continue to play a full 60-minute game, they should win this series.