Lightning power play takes advantage of first-period breaks

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Even though the Washington Capitals scored less than one minute into Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning they still found themselves trailing heading heading into the first intermission.

Their early lead — the result of a Tom Wilson deflection — was wiped out by a pair of Lightning power play goals later in the period.

The first came from Brayden Point as he continued his tremendous postseason run for the Lightning, scoring his fifth goal of the playoffs, after Wilson was sent off for goaltender interference.

The second Lightning goal, a one-timer from Steven Stamkos from just inside the left faceoff circle for his fifth of the playoffs, was the result of a high-sticking call on T.J. Oshie against Lightning defender Victor Hedman.

Both penalties that led to the Lightning goals came with a little bit of controversy.

In the case of the Wilson interference call, as he drove to the front of the net he was clearly hooked by Lightning forward Chris Kunitz, an infraction that went uncalled.

As for the Oshie call, the Capitals were livid with it because every replay angle showed that Hedman was actually hit in the face by the puck, and not Oshie’s stick.

Here is where things get a little tricky: Oshie’s stick still made contact with Hedman’s outstretched hand as he attempted to knock the puck down out of the air. According to the NHL’s high-sticking rule, “any contact made by a stick on an opponent above the shoulders is prohibited and a minor penalty shall be imposed.” So does that make it a legit call, and not the phantom call it was originally believed to be? Maybe? High-sticking is always thought of as a player getting hit in the face, but the rule doesn’t specify that it has to be that, and Oshie’s stick and the eventual contact was definitely above Hedman’s shoulder.

If nothing else, that is really making the call to the letter of the law and you don’t always see it get enforced that strictly.

You can see both penalties, as well as the Stamkos goal, in the video above. The Lightning power play has now scored at least one goal in seven consecutive playoff games.

This is also not the first time this postseason Hedman has had one of these calls go his way. In the second round Boston Bruins forward David Pastrnak was given a four-minute double-minor penalty for high-sticking when it was actually Hedman’s own stick that hit himself in the face.

The Capitals were able to respond and tie the game early in the second period on a Devante Smith-Pelly goal.

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Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.