Capitals' Nicklas Backstrom returns from hand injury for Game 4

Friday's Sports in Brief

Quick Strikes: The Tampa Bay Lightning are back

Backstrom is considered day-to-day and is a game-time decision for Game 4 against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night.

As they've done three times in this series, the Washington Capitals got on the board first.

The initial period showed three goals, and the Caps got on the scoreboard first on a goal by Dmitry Orlov.

Tyler Johnson intercepted the errant pass, zipped it over to Yanni Gourde who in turn sent it to a wide open Brayden Point who scored into the gaping left side of an open net. If they defeat the Lightning on home ice to take a 3-1 series lead back to Tampa, it will be a franchise first. Kuznetsov made no mistake with his shot, sniping the puck through the pads of Vasilevskiy to tie the game at two. When Anthony Cirelli scored into the Capitals' empty net with two seconds remaining, Ovechkin took a two-handed whack at the cross bar and shattered his stick. "Sometimes there's that little added pressure of playing at home and wanting to obviously do good things in front of your fans", Lightning forward Steven Stamkos said. The reason they didn't was Vasilevskiy, who robbed Brett Connolly of a goal early in the third period that might have been as important as the eventual game-winner.

The Washington Capitals had just done what had seemed impossible at times: survive a Tampa Bay Lightning power play.

Backstrom has three goals and 10 assists through 11 playoff games this spring. If the puck were a metaphor for criticism in these last two games, the Tampa netminder has shut that nonsense down. Game five will be played in Tampa on Saturday night. That wrapped up back-to-back victories in the nation's capital to even this best-of-seven series at two games each.

The Tampa Bay Lighting can inch one game closer to a Stanley Cup Finals berth by winning their third straight game. They outshot the Lightning 29-13 in the first and second periods, but their power play couldn't convert and they missed too many other chances.

A hard-luck loss included two penalties by fill-in No. 2 center Lars Eller, who has five in the past two games. This time, he couldn't rejoin the action in time to stop Killorn from back-handing the puck past Braden Holtby with 8:03 to play.

Vasilevskiy was also vital in shutting down the Capitals power play, which was held scoreless in four chances. Stamkos in particular has been lethal. "We tied it up 2-2, and that was our goal coming into this".

"That was a great play by [Sergachev]", Palat said. He notched 21 goals and 50 assists while playing all but one game in the regular season. But Stamkos returned to the ice shortly after, ready to lead the Lightning charge.

Had the Caps been demolished in Game 4, as they were Tuesday, there would be more cause for concern.

Maybe it just isn't in the cards for the home team in this series.

The frustration was clear on Alex Ovechkin's face as shot after shot didn't find the back of the net. Defensively, the Tampa Bay Lighting are allowing 2.9 goals per game and are killing 76.1 percent of their opponents power plays. He was slow to get up and skated to the bench bent over in apparent pain, before hobbling down the tunnel to the team's locker room.

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