The Capitals defenseman picked his performance apart after Tampa Bay prevailed 3-2 to move within a win of the Stanley Cup Final.
“It’s pinballing around in the neutral zone there, I stepped up, didn’t get the man or the puck, they got a 2-on-1 out of it and scored,” Niskanen told reporters, via Sportsnet, in reference to the Lightning’s goal in the opening minute.
“(The) first three goals (were) all my fault," Niskanen added. "I had a tough first 20 minutes and 30 seconds. So I’ve got to be better next game.”
He had a point.
Niskanen failed to prevent Ryan Callahan from chipping the puck into the Capitals' defensive zone before Cedric Paquette opened the scoring 19 seconds in, screened Braden Holtby on Ondrej Palat's marker that gave the Lightning a 2-0 lead later in the opening frame, and then allowed Anton Stralman to blow past him before Callahan banged in the goal that made it 3-0 at the 33-second mark of the second period.
Granted, other Capitals players made mistakes on those goals, and Niskanen kept them in the game with a shot that was deflected in by Evgeny Kuznetsov about four minutes later.
Despite his early miscues, Niskanen actually drove possession at 5-on-5 with a 51.61 Corsi For percentage, but he posted a Scoring Chances For rate of only 28.57 percent in those situations, according to Natural Stat Trick.
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