Caps' Nicklas Backstrom appears closer to return from injury

Hedman, Lightning beat Caps to cut East final deficit to 2-1

Stanley Cup playoffs: Lightning get first win vs. Capitals

Nicklas Backstrom is playing for the Washington Capitals against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final at Capital One Arena on Thursday. Coach Barry Trotz called him a game-time decision and said early Thursday that Backstrom had not yet been medically cleared. He pointed to Game 4 against the New Jersey Devils in the opening round, when Kucherov had points on all three Lightning goals. The line for betting that total stands at -115 for the over and -105 on the under.

Then there was Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy. We were just off a little bit, and you can't be off in this game to have success.

- The Lightning's stars finally shone. Their penalty kill's gone from 75.6 percent in the regular season to 73.2 percent in the playoffs. Their Game 3 performance was... less impressive.

Face a 2-0 series deficit, the Lightning went on the road and picked up a huge 4-2 victory to narrow the Caps' lead in the series to 2-1.

If head coach Jon Cooper decides to rest him, however, Tampa Bay could go with Louis Domingue (7-13-1 record, .896 save percentage, 3.35 goals against average).

"We haven't done anything yet, we haven't accomplished anything yet", Stamkos, who has five goals and four assists in a six-game point streak, told reporters on Wednesday.

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Washington is 59-38 straight up (SU) and has earned 16.8 units for moneyline bettors this season. It's 31-17 SU at home this year.

For starters, it can't be a good sign when so many of your key players - as is the case with Tampa Bay - are getting crushed at 5-on-5. Backstrom has missed Washington's past four games with a right hand injury.

"We checked. That was it", said Cooper, on the differences between the first two games and Game 3.

Brett Connolly would put Washington on the board after allowing Tampa Bay to score three unanswered. Holtby has 44 wins, 24 losses, and five overtime losses to his credit and has registered a pedestrian 2.82 goals against average and a subpar.910 save percentage this season.

Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin alone combined for 11 shots at even strength, but just three of those were classified as High-Danger Chances (and only one of those hit the net). Washington is a quality team but their bread and butter, particularly in the last couple of seasons, has revolved around elite special teams and goaltending. The average Tampa Bay team over the last three years has held 52 per cent of the shots. Heading into the All-Star Game, Kucherov led all scorers with 64 points; Stamkos was tied for third with 58.

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