No NHL defenseman had recorded a point streak of at least eight postseason games in more than two decades before Tuesday night, when Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman crossed that threshold with two deft passes on power plays. Both assists were one-timed into the net to set the tone in the Lightning’s 4-2 win over the Washington Capitals in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, but it wasn’t until Hedman scored a third unanswered goal that Tampa Bay had slammed the door on the possibility of falling into a 3-0 series deficit.
Scoring a point in eight straight games, which hadn’t been done since Pittsburgh’s Larry Murphy did it all the way back in 1995, appeared to carry little significance for Hedman on Tuesday night. It felt better to know that he had given his team more production on both ends, including on the penalty kill, as Washington went 0-for-3 on power play opportunities.
“For me, it’s about being effective on all ends of the ice, and trying to be a difference maker every time I step on it,” Hedman said.
But Hedman’s goal, aside from pulling the Lightning back into the series after losing the first two games on their home ice last weekend, was also the latest sign of an offensive awakening for a player who didn’t even score a point in Tampa Bay’s first round series win over New Jersey.
He also hadn’t scored a goal in these playoffs before Tuesday night, when he found himself charging through Washington’s defensive zone and tapping his stick on the ice, hungry for the puck.
Hedman had already set up two power play goals. The first was a one-timer by captain Steven Stamkos, who beat Washington goaltender Braden Holtby top-shelf with just over six minutes remaining in the first period; the second assist went to Nikita Kucherov, who rocketed his slap shot past Holtby just less than two minutes into the second period.
“I’m put in that position to produce, and I put that pressure on myself to do. Today was one of those games,” Hedman said. “When you feed pucks to (Kucherov) and (Stamkos), pucks are going to go in.”
Lightning beat Caps to cut East final deficit to 2-1
Mark Barberio re-signs with Colorado Avalanche
Mikko Rantanen leads Finland past U.S. at ice hockey world championship
Jonathan Marchessault makes Vegas Golden Knights glad Florida Panthers gave him up
Jonathan Marchessault-led Vegas Golden Knights top Winnipeg Jets in Game 2
Kucherov returned the favor less than two minutes later, finding Hedman as he crossed the blue line and scored on a wide open net. It was his first goal since Tampa Bay’s second-to-last regular season game on April 6, and it signified — at …read more
Source:: The Denver Post – Sports