WASHINGTON — Victor Hedman scored his first goal of the playoffs and added two assists, and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 36 saves to help the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Washington Capitals 4-2 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final Tuesday night and cut their series deficit to 2-1.

Hedman had the primary assist on power-play goals by Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov and was a key part of three big penalty kills that gave Tampa Bay some much-needed momentum.

Vasilevskiy was on top of his game as the Capitals put 38 shots on net. Vasilevskiy made seven saves on the penalty kill alone to save a beleaguered unit that came in ranked 13th out of 16 playoff teams.

The Lightning would still like to cut down on the quality chances Vasilevskiy has to stop in Game 4 on Thursday and beyond, like the one Brett Connolly scored on after a turnover by Ondrej Palat.

They also surrendered a six-on-five goal to Evgeny Kuznetsov with 3:02 left that made things interesting in the final minutes.

WESTERN CONFERENCE: Jonathan Marchessault was left unprotected in the expansion draft by the Florida Panthers, who seemed to determine his breakout season was a fluke.

Oops.

The Vegas Golden Knights selected Marchessault and he averaged nearly a point a game in the regular season, and leads the team with six goals and 15 points in the playoffs.

Marchessault scored twice against the Winnipeg Jets in the series-tying 3-1 win in Game 2 of the Western Conference final Monday night.

“Yeah, I’m satisfied with my game,” he said.

Florida was not satisfied, apparently, even though he scored 30 goals in his first full season and had one year left on his contract for $750,000.

“I was surprised at the decision,” he said. “I had a great season. I think I was one of the top four players at the forward position there, but they did the best decision for their organization. It’s been like that my whole career. It was a reality check. Just when you think you can be a little bit comfortable, you can’t.

“After I heard I was unprotected, I moved on and hoped that Vegas would pick me and they did.”

When the Golden Knights saw up close how good Marchessault was as their leading scorer in early January, they signed him to a $30 million, six-year contract extension. He could have gambled on his future and cashed in even more on free agency this summer, but chose to stay with a team that finally believed in him.

“It was not a tough decision,” said Marchessault, who finished the regular season with 27 goals and a career-high 75 points. “When I saw they wanted to keep me long term, I was happy because I wanted stability in my life. It’s been a roller-coaster career. I was just happy to be able to buy a home and stay there.”

Marchessault talked a big game after Vegas lost the series opener at Winnipeg, calling Monday a must-win game, and backed it up. He gave Vegas a two-goal lead in the first period and restored the two-goal lead 1:28 after Winnipeg’s Kyle Connor scored midway through the third.

Game 3 is Wednesday night in Las Vegas.