And the Washington Capitals survive with a great performance to take the series to game 7. It was arguably the Caps best performance of the playoffs in terms putting on the heat and keeping it on. Interesting enough, the numbers were in favor of the Caps, but not by much. It seemed like they really took it to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
[All numbers provided by Natural Stat Trick and Money Puck.]
The game was about as close as you can get at 5v5 Expected Goals (these numbers are adjusted). But how awesome is it to see the Caps create some separation in the 3rd, up by 2, with everything on the line. They didn’t play not to lose, they played to win. That’s a huge turn around.
In All Situations the Capitals looked much better. Considering there were two power plays for each team, and it looks as if Caps carried play in special teams as well. Caps after halfway through the game really took over.
As per usual, Jakub Vrana was amazing. The kid is an offensive dynamo that seems to create something every game. What’s great about this picture is everyone pitched in. All lines seemed to do something to help create chances.
But to me the heroes of the game are not really in that picture. Obviously Braden Holtby’s first shutout of the season was magnificent, but Matt Niskanen and Dmitry Orlov put their money where their mouth was and killed it in game 6. After last game’s debacle, Niskanen came out and said every goal was his fault. This game? That pairing went up against Tampa Bay’s first line and didn’t give them an inch.
This is how each player ended the night. Niskanen: 36% offensive zone starts, 17-2 in Scoring Chances, and 6-0 in High Danger Scoring Chances. Orlov: 33% offensive zone starts, 15-3 in Scoring Chances, and 5-0 in High Danger Chances. Basically they started most their shifts in the defensive zone and still pushed the game offensively. And again, that was mainly up against Tampa’s top line that included Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov. What a response by that pair. They’ll need a similar outing for Game 7 if they want even a chance at winning the series.
Wednesday will be the biggest game of mostly everyone on the team’s career. It will not be easy. Tampa is the best team left in the tournament and they have home ice advantage. Their fans will be electric. A battle is coming and the Capitals must win it.
By Luke Adomanis