Stanley Cup Playoffs Head-To-Head: Nikita Kucherov and Alex Ovechkin collide in ECF

(Photo by Scott Iskowitz/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo by Scott Iskowitz/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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Tampa Bay Lightning, Stanley Cup Playoffs, Nikita Kucherov
(Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post via Getty Images) /

The Takeaway

Nikita Kucherov and Alex Ovechkin are two of the most talented players in the National Hockey League right now. Seeing the two of them come together in the center of the ice, both with the hopes of advancing to the next round and becoming a lasting piece of history, is exactly what playoff hockey is all about.

Both the Lightning and Capitals defenses (and their goaltenders) have their work cut out for them over the course of the next couple of weeks. The Bolts will need to be aggressive on the forecheck, lay down some hard hits, and ultimately limit the amount of time the Caps spend in their offensive zone.

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Andrei Vasilevskiy has quickly proven himself to be one of the most talented goaltenders in the National Hockey League. Unfortunately, no one, not even Vasilevskiy, is perfect. The Bolts defense is going to have to do their part and prevent players like Alex Ovechkin from getting opportunities and leaning on Vasilevskiy.

The bottom line is this is going to be a highly-contested series. Each team is capable of putting up the numbers just like each team is capable of shutting down their opponents. What it all boils down to is who wants it more and who is willing to fight for their place in the record books.

Will the Washington Capitals finally break the postseason curse which has plagued them for countless seasons? Could this be the season the Tampa Bay Lightning returns to the Stanley Cup Final in the hopes of raising the Cup high in the air for the first time since 2004? We’ll all find out soon enough.

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The action kicks off tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time from the Amalie Arena in the heart of Downtown Tampa. If you weren’t one of the 19,092 fans lucky enough to score a ticket to tonight’s game, there are still plenty of ways to stay on top of the action. Here’s a look at all the information you need for tonight’s Game 1 showdown.