WASHINGTON — With reports of their demise proven premature [url=http://www.coltsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-quenton-nelson-jersey]http://www.coltsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-quenton-nelson-jersey[/url] , the Tampa Bay Lightning will look to even their Eastern Conference Final with the Washington Capitals when the teams meet in Game 4 on Thursday night.
With a win, the Lightning can regain the home-ice advantage — or disadvantage, as the visiting team has won the first three games — before the teams travel to Tampa Bay for Saturday’s Game 5.
The Lightning climbed back into the series with Tuesday’s 4-2 win, improving to 4-1 on the road in the 2018 playoffs.
Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point each had a goal and an assist, and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 36 saves as Tampa Bay built a 3-0 lead and short-circuited Washington’s rally.
“We haven’t done anything yet [url=http://www.authenticsnewyorkgiants.com/cheap-lorenzo-carter-jersey]Lorenzo Carter Color Rush Jersey[/url] , we haven’t accomplished anything yet,” Stamkos, who has five goals and four assists in a six-game point streak, told reporters on Wednesday. “We got ourselves back in the series by playing a lot more of a structured game and we’re confident we can do that again.”
In Game 3. the Lightning righted some of the wrongs that plagued them in Games 1 and 2, including scoring two even-strength goals — after scoring a total of two in the first two games — and winning the special teams battle, finishing 2-for-5 on the power play while Washington went 0-for-3.
Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper also opted to juggle his top three lines and was rewarded with additional offense without hurting his defense.
“Yeah [url=http://www.seattlemarinersteamshop.com/authentic-alex-colome-jersey]Alex Colome Seattle Mariners Jersey[/url] , we tweaked our lines,” Cooper told the team’s website Wednesday. “Was that the recipe? It was the way we played. That was the recipe. … We played better as a team.”
Brett Connolly’s goal pulled the Capitals within 3-1 and Evgeny Kuznetsov scored late as Washington fell to 3-4 at home in the playoffs.
Braden Holtby made 19 saves, allowing four goals for the first time in the postseason.
Now it’s Washington’s turn to respond.
“We weren’t playing as sharp as we normally can,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz told nhl.com. “We weren’t executing the way we normally did in the last couple of games. We were just off a little bit, and you can’t be off in this game to have success. We will be better next game.”
Washington could get a boost if center Nicklas Backstrom, who has missed the last four games with an injured hand [url=http://www.authenticsjacksonvillejaguars.com/cheap-tanner-lee-jersey]Tanner Lee Color Rush Jersey[/url] , returns. He has been skating with the team and participated in Wednesday’s optional practice.
Backstrom had 21 goals and 50 assists in the regular season and has three goals and 10 assists in 11 playoff games.
“You can’t replace a guy like him,” Jay Beagle told the Washington Post. “He’s one of our key leaders and one of our best players. He’s a guy who makes this team click and makes us go. Obviously to get him back would be huge.”
This is the fifth time since conference finals started in 1982 that the first three games were all won by the road team, according to STATS, Inc.
The 1995 series (New Jersey-Philadelphia) and the 2004 series (Calgary-San Jose) both had the road team win the first five games before the home team closed it out in Game 6. There has not been a best-of-five or best-of-seven playoff series in which the road team won every game.
Washington will look to end the visiting streak in this series.
“You have to have a short memory and get the rest, regroup and have fun, enjoy the game [url=http://www.redskinsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-jonathan-allen-jersey]http://www.redskinsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-jonathan-allen-jersey[/url] ,” Kuznetsov told nhl.com. “No one expected 4-0, right? We all know it’s going to be a tough series. We just have to relax a little bit and stay positive.”
SALT LAKE CITY — It isn’t a cliche to say that the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Clippers have reached a juncture where every game counts. Plenty is at stake when the two teams clash in Salt Lake City on Thursday night.
Utah (45-33) has won three straight and is a half-game up on San Antonio for fourth place in the Western Conference after the Spurs dropped an overtime decision to the Los Angeles Lakers. The Jazz need to keep winning to clinch that top four seed and earn homecourt advantage in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
The Clippers (42-36) trail New Orleans by two games for the final playoff spot. They need more wins and a little help elsewhere to keep their season going beyond next week.
For Utah, the path to a top-four seed requires overcoming some recent struggles at home. The Jazz won their second straight home game Tuesday after edging the Los Angeles Lakers 117-110.
It wasn’t a simple task. The Lakers shot 48.6 percent from the field overall and made 14 3-pointers. Utah needed 31 points on 10-of-16 shooting from Ricky Rubio — his fifth career 30-point game — to outlast them.
The Jazz struggled with everything from closing out on shooters to stopping transition baskets. It left coach Quin Snyder unhappy with the effort he witnessed.
“Our focus needs to be: be better,” Snyder said. “All I’ve heard is the playoffs and we’re in the playoffs. We’re not in the playoffs. There’s no x next to our name in the standings, so we need to play with more urgency and more focus.”
Perimeter defense has been a major issue in recent games for the Jazz. Seven of Utah’s last 10 opponents have shot better than 40 percent from 3-point range. Four have shot better than 50 percent from long distance.
The Lakers shot 13-of-21 from 3-point range through three quarters before finally going 1-of-7 over the final 12 minutes. It let Los Angeles hang around and made the Jazz sweat out a win.
“I don’t think for us it should be hard,” Utah guard Donovan Mitchell said. “We kind of did this to ourselves a little bit. I think the biggest thing with us is being able to come out strong.”
The Clippers picked up a critical 113-110 victory over San Antonio on Tuesday night to keep their playoff hopes alive. Los Angeles rallied in the fourth quarter against the Spurs [url=http://www.chargersauthorizedshops.com/authentic-justin-jones-jersey]http://www.chargersauthorizedshops.com/authentic-justin-jones-jersey[/url] , scoring 41 points to overcome a double-digit deficit. Lou Williams supplied 15 of his 22 points in the final quarter and Tobias Harris led the way with 31 points on 11-of-19 shooting.
It snapped a two-game losing streak for Los Angeles. One reason for it is the Clippers showed marked improvement in getting to the free throw line and making free throws. They went 34-of-43 from the line against the Spurs after making 31-of-49 free throws combined in losses to Portland and Indiana.
The Clippers also closed strong in the fourth quarter against San Antonio after falling victim to a final quarter rally against the Pacers.
Los Angeles could be a little short-handed Thursday. Danilo Gallinari sat out Tuesday with a sore right hand and it’s doubtful he will be available agaunst the Jazz. Gallinari has appeared in only 21 games this season because of injuries.
“It’s day by day,” Gallinari told the Los Angeles Times. “I will go with the team to Utah, and hopefully the pain is a little better and I play next game.”
Utah has won two of the first three meetings this season. The Jazz beat the Clippers 125-113 on Jan. 20 in the most recent encounter. Utah never trailed and was powered by 23 points from Mitchell and 21 points from Joe Ingles.
Los Angeles fell short despite 31 points, seven assists and a franchise-record 10 steals from Williams. He became the first player in NBA history to have 30 points, 10 steals and seven assists in a game.
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