Two games and two

The Tampa Bay Lightning are on the brink of a return trip to the Stanley Cup Final.

Coach Jon Cooper and his players say it won’t be easy to close the deal against the Washington Capitals.

”We haven’t won anything yet [url=http://www.ramscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-robert-woods-jersey]Robert Woods Jersey[/url] ,” Cooper said Saturday night after Cedric Paquette scored in the opening minute and Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 28 shots to help the Lightning hold off the Caps 3-2 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final.

Ondrej Palat and Ryan Callahan also scored as the home team won for the first time in the best-of-seven matchup, with Tampa Bay taking a 3-2 series lead and moving within one victory of advancing to the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in four seasons.

”Let’s be honest,” Cooper added. ”You’ve got to get four, not three.”

The Capitals, in the conference final for the first time in the Alex Ovechkin era, have lost three straight after winning twice on the road to begin the series.

Ovechkin scored with 1:36 remaining, trimming what once was a three-goal lead to one, however Vasilevskiy made three more saves to finish the victory.

Game 6 is Monday night in Washington, where Tampa Bay has already won to improve to 5-1 on the road this postseason.

”We have a lot of unfinished business. This isn’t even close to being over,” Callahan said. ”This last game’s definitely the hardest against a very, very good Washington team. ”To go in their building and try to close it out is going to be tough.”

The Capitals were encouraged by the way they finished the game and are confident they can force the series back to Tampa for Game 7.

”This group has got its backs against the wall, and this group has responded all year,” coach Barry Trotz said. ”I don’t expect anything different.”

The Capitals won the first two games on the road [url=http://www.texanscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-christian-covington-jersey]Christian Covington Jersey[/url] , scoring 10 goals on Vezina Trophy finalist Vasilevskiy and sending the Lightning – won had the best record in the East during the regular season – into desperation mode.

Tampa Bay responded by winning Game 3 in Washington, evening the series despite being outshot and outplayed for sizeable stretches of a 4-2 victory in Game 4 and returning home, where Cooper was confident the Lightning would be better than they were in the first two games.

Turns out Cooper was right.

Washington’s Dmitry Orlov turned the puck over in the neutral zone on the opening shift of the night and Callahan made the Caps pay for the mistake, feeding Paquette for a 1-0 lead just 19 seconds into the game.

Palat’s second goal of the series made it 2-0. Tampa Bay extended the advantage to three goals when Callahan scored 33 seconds into the second period.

Outshot 13-4 and limited to one scoring opportunity in the opening period, the Caps began to put some pressure on Vasilevskiy in the second.

Evgeny Kuznetsov scored a goal in his fourth straight game, giving him a franchise single-year, playoff-best 22 points (11 goals, 11 assists) and trimming Washington’s deficit to 3-1 at 4:21 of the period.

The Capitals kept pressing in the third period, but didn’t breakthrough against until Ovechkin scored his 11th goal this postseason.

”It’s not frustrating,” Ovechkin said. ”Of course, when you lose a game you feel bad. We just had a bad start. We didn’t handle the puck in the neutral zone. They got a lucky bounce and put in the first goal. That gave them momentum.”

”It’s disappointing, but I thought our second two periods were great,” Capitals winger T.J. Oshie said. ”We showed a lot of character. Character doesn’t always win you games [url=http://www.jaguarscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-yannick-ngakoue-jersey]Yannick Ngakoue Jersey[/url] , but I think it’s going to be important to have that feeling going into Game 6 at home.”

Notes: The road team won each of the first four games of a series for the sixth time in the last 10 years and 26th time in Stanley Cup playoffs history. Under that scenario, the road team has won Game 5 only three times. … Paquette’s goal was his first in the playoffs since Game 3 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, ending a 34-game drought for the 24-year-old center. … At 19 seconds of the opening period, Palat’s goal was not the fastest to start a game in Lightning history. Adam Hall scored for Tampa Bay 13 seconds into Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final against Boston in 2011. … Capitals winger Andre Burakovsky was a game-time scratch.

Arizona’s offense, so awful in May, is on a scoring binge in June – and Jon Jay joined the party Tuesday night.

Jay got his first three hits for Arizona, including a three-run homer, and the Diamondbacks won their fifth game in a row with a sloppy 13-8 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

”I can’t stress enough how good this group is and how they’ve welcomed me and made me feel super comfortable,” he said. ”I’m super excited and looking forward to the summer.”

Jay, acquired Thursday in a trade with Kansas City, was hitless in 12 at-bats for the Diamondbacks before his leadoff single in Arizona’s six-run first inning. His opposite-field homer in the eighth broke the game open after the Pirates had rallied from an 8-0 deficit to trail 10-8.

”That was a pretty decisive blow in the game,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said.

Starling Marte hit a three-run homer, doubled and made a diving grab in center field for the Pirates.

Fernando Salas (4-4) gave up a run in 1 1/3 innings and got the win.

Nine of the runs in the game were unearned.

The Diamondbacks have scored 51 runs in the last five games. They’ve won 11 of 14 and lead the NL West by three games over the surging Los Angeles Dodgers.

”It’s hard to believe [url=http://www.brownscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-carl-nassib-jersey]Carl Nassib Jersey[/url] ,” Lovullo said. ”You go through a May the way we did, I don’t know how many runs we scored the entire month. It wasn’t a lot.”

The Pirates have lost six of eight and fell to 1-4 on a six-game trip that ends Wednesday afternoon with the series finale in the desert.

Arizona jumped on Trevor Williams (5-4) in the first with six runs, two on Ketel Marte’s seventh triple of the season. Five runs were unearned thanks to three Pirates errors, two on one play.

”We’ve got work to do,” manager Clint Hurdle said of his infield defense. ”We are not playing at the level we are capable of playing.”

The Diamondbacks added a pair of runs in the third, one on David Peralta’s RBI triple, to lead 8-0.

But the Pirates countered with an unearned barrage of their own in a six-run fourth.

A catcher’s interference call against John Ryan Murphy loaded the bases and Clay Buchholz hit Jordy Mercer with a pitch to bring in Pittsburgh’s first run. Buchholz walked pinch-hitter Sean Rodriguez to bring in another. Josh Harrison followed with a sacrifice fly before Marte homered just over the right-field fence to cut what once was an eight-run Arizona lead to 8-6.

Because of Murphy’s error, the last four of the six runs were unearned.

Josh Bell’s RBI double, his third hit of the night, trimmed Arizona’s advantage to 10-8 in the seventh.

”A couple tough bounces their way and it got out of hand in that first inning,” said Williams, who allowed eight runs – only three earned – in three innings. ”It was good for us to fight back and it is awesome that the team showed that fight. I am disappointed in myself that it was out of reach in that first inning and let the team down that way.”

TOUGH START

The first inning was an ugly one for Pittsburgh.

With runners at first and second and no outs, Bell fielded Jake Lamb’s grounder to first base and spiked a throw to second [url=http://www.texanscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-benardrick-mckinney-jersey]Benardrick McKinney Jersey[/url] , with the ball bouncing into the outfield.

Marte’s two-out triple brought in two more runs, and Jarrod Dyson was intentionally walked to bring up Buchholz. Williams made a pickoff move to first, threw wildly and Marte scored. The speedy Dyson headed for third and second baseman Harrison threw the ball away, allowing the runner to score.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Pirates: Harrison was back in the lineup after being hit by a pitch in the shoulder Monday night. The Pirates had said after that game that Harrison would be day to day.

Diamondbacks: RHP Braden Shipley took a line drive to the ribs in the ninth but stayed in the game to get the final out. … LHP Robbie Ray (strained right oblique) is to make his first rehab start Thursday for Class A Visalia. … RHP Shelby Miller (Tommy John surgery) makes his fourth rehab start, for Class A Visalia, on Saturday.

UP NEXT

Arizona, going for its second consecutive three-game sweep, sends RHP Zack Greinke (5-4, 3.53 ERA) to the mound on Wednesday. The Pirates counter with RHP Jameson Taillon (3-5, 4.08). Greinke is 16-1 with a 2.53 ERA in his last 25 starts at Chase Field.

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