The Tampa Bay Lightning took advantage of two questionable calls to take a 2-1 lead over the Washington Capitals in Sunday’s Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final. The Caps, though, didn’t panic. They battled back, scoring five unanswered goals – including a power play marker of their own – on the way to a 6-2 victory.
The Lightning goals came on two early penalty calls that frustrated the Capitals’ bench.
The first, on Tom Wilson for goaltender interference, came at 13:12 of the opening period. Wilson was headed toward the net when he was hooked by Tampa’s Chris Kunitz. There was no call on Kunitz, though it appeared that his hook – or some inadvertent skate-on-skate contact awhile Wilson was stopping – caused Wilson to contact the goalkeeper.
The Bolts capitalized just 30 seconds later, with Brayden Point firing a shot to tie the game at 1-1.
Less than two minutes later, another questionable call went against the Capitals. Washington’s T.J. Oshie was whistled for high-sticking after waving his stick at the puck. Though Oshie didn’t connect with Hedman’s face, the puck did.
Again, Tampa took advantage, with Steven Stamkos scoring the go-ahead goal.
The Capitals, though, remained calm.
“You can’t change it,” Caps winger Brett Connolly said. “That’s the thing. [The officials are] not going to reverse it. Sometimes you go up to the ref and say, ‘It’s okay. It’s fine. It happens.’”
So, Caps right back on the penalty kill. I would say both calls have been questionable. Wilson was arguably hooked into Andrei Vasilevskiy.
— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) May 14, 2018
Washington’s Devante Smith-Pelly was very diplomatic.
“The refs are human,” said Smith-Pelly. “I mean, they’re going to make mistakes.”
From that point on, the Capitals did their best to limit their own mistakes. Their penalty-kill was perfect on the Lightning’s five power play chances though periods two and three. Goaltender Braden Holtby stopped 22 straight shots over the same span.
“We can only control what we can control,” said Caps head coach Barry Trotz. “We refocused and we tried to stay on task. I think we did.”
Heading home with a 2-0 lead, it’s hard to disagree.