TAMPA (AP) - After two wins on the road in Washington, D.C., the Lightning returned to Tampa to a rowdy crowd ready to cheer them into the Stanley Cup Final.
With a goal by Cedric Paquette in the opening 20 seconds, the energy in Amalie Arena started and stayed high all 60 minutes.
For the second game in a row, goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy had a game-changing performance - stopping 28 shots Saturday night.
Ondrej Palat and Ryan Callahan also scored, carrying the Lightning to the first home-team win of the best-of-seven matchup.
The Tampa Bay Lightning held off the Washington Capitals 3-2 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final.
The Lightning also take a 3-2 series lead and move within one victory of advancing the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in four seasons.
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, Vasiliveskiy made three more saves down the stretch to finish the victory.
Game 6 is Monday night in Washington, D.C. where Tampa Bay has already won to improve to 5-1 on the road this postseason.
The Capitals won the first two games on the road, 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 coach Jon 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 break through against until Ovechkin scored his 11th goal this postseason.
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.
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