That escalated quickly, didn’t it? The Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins are in the brink of a sweep after both failed to win Sunday. The Lightning are well known for choking in the playoffs, but it usually happens way later than the first-round. They haven’t even won a playoff game yet. If they do get swept, the Lightning won the same amount of games in the postseason that the Senators and Red Wings did, which is difficult to wrap your head around.
The Presidents’ Trophy curse appears to be alive and well in 2019. Washington knows how that feels. It had to take the Capitals avoiding the top-seed to win the Stanley Cup last season. Some of the pressure was alleviated and they were the best team in hockey after losing their first two games against the Blue Jackets.
It’s a different scenario now, as the Lightning will need to win four straight games. Washington did it last year when they were down 0-2, but the Lightning have no energy or drive right now. There has been nothing from Tampa after blowing their 3-goal lead in Game 1. Everything was sucked out of them, minutes before it looking like this wasn’t going to be a competitive series whatsoever. Instead of the Lightning running away with the series and not making it competitive, it’s been the other team.
The Capitals avoided the top-seed again this season and it’s working out well for them so far. It had to take overtime for them to get their second win of the series, but they were able to avoid collapsing late. Washington took a 3-2 lead deep into the 3rd period, though the Hurricanes tied it up on the power-play with 5:00 remaining on the clock. Washington have that killer instinct, though, and didn’t allow it to get to them in overtime. The series shifts to Raleigh where momentum could change on a dime, though. They must stay on the Hurricanes and not give them any life. Head below for our free Capitals vs. Hurricanes Game 3 pick.
Washington Capitals vs. Carolina Hurricanes Game 3 Pick
The Capitals were sluggish in the first-half, but any hangover they were suffering from was gone by the second-half. When it mattered most, the Capitals were playing at the top of their game last year. Other than the first two games against Columbus, the Caps seemed to be in complete control.
The same thing appears to be happening this year, and now it’s more than likely that they aren’t going to have to deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference. Beating the Lightning might be a sugar high for the Jackets, where they come back down and hit a wall hard. So, the easiest path to the Stanley Cup Final has to be the Capitals. Let’s just say on paper, at least.
With the win on Saturday, it was the sixth straight victory for the Caps over the Canes. Going back to the regular season, this series has been vastly lopsided. And now they are just two games away from completing the regular season sweep and playoff sweep of the Hurricanes. Nevertheless, expect the Hurricanes to come out firing in the 1st period.
They are going to be amped up about playing in front of their home crowd for the first time since 2009. Well, to be more specific, Justin Williams is going to be amped up because he was still with the team back then. In any event, not much was expected of the Hurricanes this season.
Washington have gone 6-0 in their last six games against Carolina, and on top of that, they’re 5-0 in their last five trips to Raleigh. I can’t see laying juice on the Hurricanes even though they’re home for Game 3. Yes, they will come out hard for the first ten minutes, but I think they tire out as the game progresses. Incredible effort to get to this point, but I think they just don’t have the talent to keep up with Ovechkin and company to make this a competitive series.