Cooper: They were playing the conference final, we were playing Game 38

Jon Cooper likened his team’s performance Friday night to one he might see in midseason.

They were playing in the Eastern Conference Final, and we were playing in Game 38,” the Tampa Bay Lightning head coach told reporters, including Sportsnet’s Arash Madani, after a 4-2 loss to the Washington Capitals in Game 1.

The Lightning fell behind 2-0 in the first period after having a Nikita Kucherov goal disallowed thanks to a too-many-men penalty, then found themselves trailing 4-0 in the second intermission before showing signs of life that came too little, too late in the third.

Washington outshot Tampa Bay 9-2 in the first period and 25-10 through 40 minutes, as they put the game out of reach.

Alex Ovechkin scored a goal and an assist in Friday’s 4-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Ovechkin’s power-play blast gave the Capitals a 2-0 lead with just over six seconds remaining in the first period. He also registered an assist on Lars Eller’s marker on the man-advantage that extended his team’s lead to 4-0 at the 6:42 mark of the second frame. Ovechkin finished the night with an even rating, three shots on goal and three hits in 17:40 of ice time. The 32-year-old has picked up at least one point in seven of his last eight outings. This was also his seventh multi-point effort of the postseason. Ovechkin is up to nine goals and 17 points in 13 playoff games. The Capitals lead the Eastern Conference Final 1-0.