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Bergenheim’s linemates, Steve Downie and Dominic Moore, each had two assists, and Teddy Purcell had two assists of his own. Tampa Bay earned its first playoff series sweep since eliminating Montreal four games to none in 2004, also the last time the Lightning went this deep into the postseason.
Tied at 1 entering the second period, the Lightning scored twice to take a lead they would never lose. Bergenheim’s first goal, at 4:41 of the second, came after Downie held in a clearing attempt and shot the puck right at goalie Michal Neuvirth. Bergenheim’s first shot hit Moore and came back to him, and he floated a backhander that might have deflected off a Capitals stick into the top corner of the net.
Later in the period, Bergenheim and Moore went up the ice in a 2-on-2 situation. Bergenheim fed a pass ahead to Moore, whose wrist shot from the right faceoff dot was stopped by Neuvirth. But he gave up a big rebound, and Bergenheim moved up the slot to pounce on it and score again for a 3-1 Tampa Bay lead.
John Erskine scored on a seeing-eye shot from the left boards to cut the Lightning lead to 3-2 going into the third period. But Marc-Andre Bergeron restored the Lightning’s two-goal lead at 5:07 of the third on a power play, firing a slap shot past Neuvirth’s stick side. Martin St. Louis added an insurance goal with a little over three minutes left.
Ryan Malone also had a power-play goal for Tampa Bay, who won its seventh straight playoff game, one short of the team’s playoff record. Dwayne Roloson made 33 saves and finished with a .925 save percentage in the series.
Marco Sturm and John Carlson scored the other goals for the Capitals, who have more questions to answer than ever after another early playoff exit. Meanwhile, the Lightning have earned some badly-needed rest as they wait for the rest of the second round to play out. They will face either the Boston Bruins or Philadelphia Flyers when the Eastern Conference Finals begin the weekend of May 14-15.
Michal Neuvirth hasn't looked very good for the Washington Capitals in this second round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning. But according to Stephen Whyno, Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau will likely stick with the young goal tender in tonight's all important Game 4.
I asked Boudreau if he considered switch to Varly. "no." So Michal starting? "maybe."
Boudreau might be trying to hold some of his cards in advance of the game tonight, but if he hasn't considered making a move, that suggests that one won't be made. According to another tweet by Whyno, a Capitals defenseman might have spilled the beans a little prematurely.
Karl Alzner did talk about making saves easy for Neuvy ... Varly, Holtby were on ice long. So indications are Neuvirth.
I'm sure the Capitals are frustrated with Neuvirth's performance so fr in this series, but bringing in a cold goaltender who hasn't had any burn in a few weeks probably isn't a very good idea either. Seems to me like the Caps are stuck between a rock and a struggling goaltender.
Not even the most optimistic Lightning fan probably could have envisioned this scenario, but here it is: With a win tonight, the Tampa Bay Lightning will eliminate the Washington Capitals, the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference, in a four-game sweep and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. The Lightning took a 3-0 series lead with last night's 4-3 win, and now it's up to the Capitals to try and regroup in less than 24 hours and save their season. Tonight's game starts a little after 7:00pm, televised by Sun Sports and by the NHL Network for fans outside of the local viewing area.
There has been some recent success by teams that fell behind 3-0 in an NHL playoff series. The Chicago Blackhawks trailed the Vancouver Canucks 3-0 in the first round of this year's playoffs and extended the series all the way to overtime in Game 7. Last season, the Boston Bruins blew a 3-0 series lead to the Philadelphia Flyers, falling on home ice in Game 7. In 2008, the San Jose Sharks fell behind the Dallas Stars 3-0 in a second-round series and lasted until a fourth overtime in Game 6 before being eliminated. So even though the odds are overwhelmingly in Tampa Bay's favor, the series is certainly not over.
The question is how the Capitals will manage to pull it together. Mike Green left Game 3 with a "lower-body injury", believed to be some kind of leg injury, and his status for tonight's game is unclear as of this morning. Desperate to rally after the Lightning took the lead, the Capitals left their top line of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Mike Knuble on the ice for nearly 24 minutes apiece in the first game of a back-to-back. And instead of talking about adjustments, or how the team needs to play with urgency or desperation, or just that they need a win to gain a little bit of momentum, the team seems to be falling apart mentally. Alex Ovechkin is saying that he thinks the Capitals dominated the game, Bruce Boudreau is complaining about the Ryan Malone goal and another goal his team had taken away following a horrible too many men on the ice penalty, and even mild-mannered Mike Knuble is bemoaning the team's play in the third period.
"We were happy, but after a few minutes we were already back to that fact that we have a game (today). Everybody has done that, from the faces and the reactions I see here."
It looks like Tampa Bay will again be without forward Simon Gagne and defenseman Pavel Kubina, who have each missed the last two games. Before Tuesday's Game 3, Lightning coach Guy Boucher declared them both doubtful for Game 4, although they may return if the series continues through the weekend. But the Lightning would like to finish this series tonight, eliminate their division rivals, and earn what could be as many as nine days of rest before traveling to either Boston or Philadelphia to start the conference finals.
Steven Stamkos and Ryan Malone scored goals just 24 seconds apart in the third period as the Tampa Bay Lightning rallied for a 4-3 win over the Washington Capitals in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal. The Lightning now lead the series three games to none and will look for a surprising sweep in tomorrow night’s Game 4.
Trailing 3-2 in the third period, the Lightning stunned Washington with the fastest two goals in the franchise’s playoff history. Victor Hedman caused a turnover in the Capitals zone, and Stamkos picked it up in the high slot and snapped a wrist shot past Michal Neuvirth to tie the game 3-3 at 5:23 of the third. Then on the next shift, Karl Alzner couldn’t hold a puck at the edge of the Tampa Bay zone on a dump-in by Eric Brewer. Nate Thompson skated in behind Alzner and drove towards the corner, then threw the puck at the net where it deflected off Malone’s back skate and into the goal for a 4-3 Lightning lead at 5:47. The goal was upheld when video review confirmed Malone had not kicked the puck into the net.
If not for Neuvirth, the Lightning could have padded their lead. He made several key saves after Malone’s goal, robbing Sean Bergenheim on a shorthanded breakaway, and denying Martin St. Louis on an open backhand shot from close range. Neuvirth made 26 saves in the game.
Washington scored all three of their goals in the middle period. Mike Knuble tied the game 1-1 on a scrum in front after Alex Ovechkin had been stopped on a break and threw the puck back towards the crease from the far corner. John Carlson gave the Capitals a 2-1 lead on a low wrist shot past a screened Roloson, and Ovechkin scored late in the second period on a 5-on-3 power play, when the Lightning collapsed to the net but were unable to find the rebound of a Mike Green shot.
Green did not play in the last 18 minutes of the game, and according to Katie Carrera of the Washington Post, he was seen limping heavily on his left leg as the team left the arena. At this time, Green's status for tomorrow night's Game 4 is unclear.
Bergenheim and Vincent Lecavalier scored the other Tampa Bay goals, and Roloson made 29 saves as the Lightning won their sixth straight playoff game. In the process they pushed Washington, the Eastern Conference's top seed, to the brink of another early playoff exit.
Despite losses on their home ice in the first two games of the series, the Capitals and coach Bruce Boudreau have elected to stay with goalie Michal Neuvirth in Game 3 on Tuesday, according to Stephen Whyno of the Washington Times. Neuvirth has allowed three goals in each of the first two games, after a stellar series against the Rangers in the first round.
“We’re very comfortable with him,” Boudreau said. “You look at the goals that have been scored – there’s not much he can do about them.” Players were similarly confident in the 23-year-old netminder, who has a 1.77 goals against average and .928 save percentage these playoffs. Neuvirth is not the problem, they said.
The problem is thought to be with the Capitals defense, which has allowed a few shots on goal that they probably shouldn't have. Neuvirth has allowed six goals this series, but only one or two of them were his fault. If he has another game with that many goals allowed on Tuesday in Game 3, it will be interesting to see if the Capitals continue to stick with him while they are facing elimination.
When Simon Gagne hit the ice head first in Game 1 of the Lightning's second round series against the Capitals, it appeared as though he had a very serious head or neck injury. But he has responded to early tests very well, and is hopeful that he can play in Game 3 on Tuesday night. According to Damian Cristodera of the St. Petersburg Times, Gagne considers himself lucky that the injury was not more serious.
"The way I feel right now, it's positive," Gagne said. "I'm day to day. We'll see how it goes."
What might be the best sign is that Gagne did not lose consciousness at any point during the hit or the immediate aftermath. Erik Erlendsson of Tampa Bay Online reports that Gagne remembers the whole thing.
"I remember everything. I remember the hit, everything," he said. "It looked a lot worse than people think."
I'm not sure if I would expect Gagne to return to the lineup on Tuesday, but the fact that he feels like he is ready to return means that his injury is coming along very well. Even if he doesn't play for a while, this injury could have been much worse.
The Tampa Bay Lightning return to the St. Pete Times Forum tonight at 6:30 PM and will attempt to turn the series into an uphill climb for the Washington Capitals. A win tonight puts the Lightning within 60 minutes of a sweep of the favored Caps and earn a much-needed rest while the other series shake themselves out.
Lightning coach Guy Boucher has been playing a series of mind games with the Capitals and coach Bruce Boudreau, indicating his team is capable of much better. The Lightning, however, will have to combat the fatigue of the playoffs, having played every other day (excluding one day off after their 2OT loss against Pittsburgh in Game 4) since the playoffs began.
The Lightning, however, have posted a stunning 97.8% penalty kill in the playoffs. Even without Simon Gagne and Pavel Kubina in Game 2 (both are still listed as day-to-day), the team didn't miss a step. Behind Martin St. Louis and his team-leading five playoff goals, the Bolts will use tonight's game to gain a permanent upper hand in the series.
Vincent Lecavalier scored at 6:19 of overtime to give the Tampa Bay Lightning a 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Lightning now lead the best-of-seven series 2-0, with Games 3 and 4 in Tampa on Tuesday and Wednesday night.
After fighting off another early surge by the Capitals and seeing Steve Downie denied on a 2-on-1, Tampa Bay won it in sudden fashion. Randy Jones, who was in the lineup as a result of Pavel Kubina’s injury, picked up the puck at his own goal line and banked a long pass off the boards to Teddy Purcell, catching the Capitals in a line change. Purcell moved in on a 2-on-1 and slipped a pass behind Mike Green to Lecavalier. The Lightning captain settled the puck as Neuvirth went down, then shot it over him to end the game.
Dwayne Roloson made 35 saves for the Lightning, who tied a franchise record with their fifth straight road playoff win. Lecavalier had two goals in the game, adding a power-play goal in the first period. Martin St. Louis had a goal and an assist, and Purcell’s second assist of the game sprung Lecavalier for the game-winner.
Celebrate with Lightning fans at Raw Charge, SB Nation's Lightning blog.
The Tampa Bay Lightning were only a minute and eight seconds away from stealing Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals from the Washington Capitals. But maybe justice has been served for now. Alex Ovechkin roofed a loose puck in front of the net over Lightning goalie Dwayne Roloson with 1:08 left in regulation, tying the game at 2 and sending the two teams into overtime.
The Capitals have significantly outplayed the Lightning in this game, but they were in position to lose it after Mike Green deflected a Martin St. Louis shot into his own net at 7:35 of the third period. Tampa Bay locked down Washington for most of the third period, only allowing three shots until the Lightning were called for icing with 1:43 left.
As a result of the icing, the Lightning were unable to complete a line change and had to leave the same five players on the ice. Lightning coach Guy Boucher called a timeout to give them some rest, but it allowed Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau to pull goalie Michal Neuvirth and put six of his best offensive players on the ice together in a bid to tie the game. It paid off when a puck came out in front of the net to a waiting, unchecked Ovechkin, who popped it up over Dwayne Roloson and into the net.
Washington won two overtime games in their first-round series against the New York Rangers, while the Lightning lost Game 4 against Pittsburgh in double overtime. This is the third playoff overtime game between the two teams; the Lightning won the first two, both in 2003 and both at the Verizon Center.
Somehow the Tampa Bay Lightning are only tied 1-1 with the Washington Capitals after two periods in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal. That they’re not in a deep hole should all be credited to their goalie, Dwayne Roloson, who continues to make a string of remarkable saves while the forwards and defense fall apart around him.
The Lightning were outshot 16-3 in the second period, bringing the game’s shot total to 27-9 in favor of Washington. They gave up numerous scoring chances, took three more penalties, and generally played terrible hockey. Roloson fought off a breakaway attempt (by Nicklas Backstrom), a two-on-one opportunity (by Marco Sturm), and 13 other shots in the period, virtually alone against the Capitals onslaught.
But he didn’t save every shot. After Martin St. Louis was unable to get a puck deep to give his team enough time to complete a line change, John Erskine quickly got the play started in the other direction. Backstrom’s shot was stopped by Roloson, but Brooks Laich found his way to the loose puck and whacked it into the net to tie the game at 14:52 of the second.
The Washington Capitals did their best to take it to the Tampa Bay Lightning early in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal. The Capitals were physical, they pushed the tempo, and they got players to the net looking to get on the scoreboard first. But instead, Dwayne Roloson turned them away, and then Vincent Lecavalier’s power-play goal gave the Lightning a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes of play.
The Lightning took three straight penalties through the middle of the first period, including two that gave the Capitals almost four minutes of uninterrupted time on the power play. But Roloson stood tall and made a number of quality saves, including a left pad save on an Alex Ovechkin blast during Washington's third power-play opportunity.
Tampa Bay had very little offensive pressure for most of the first period. In fact, their best chance for the first 18 minutes was Sean Bergenheim breaking in short-handed after coming off the bench for Blair Jones and taking a stretch pass in alone. But Capitals goalie Michal Neuvirth was there to make the stop.
Then in the final minute of the first period, after a high-sticking penalty by Ovechkin on Mattias Ohlund, the Lightning got the only goal of the period on the power play. During some sustained pressure by Tampa Bay, Ryan Malone was able to keep a play alive from his knees by chopping the puck over the back corner of the net to Lecavalier. He passed to Martin St. Louis, and then got it back for a one-timer laser beam that went over Neuvirth’s left shoulder and off the camera inside the goal.
The Lightning’s first-period lead is thanks entirely to their special-teams dominance. But they will need better five-on-five play in order to keep it.
After beating the Washington Capitals 4-2 on Friday night, the Tampa Bay Lightning will hit the ice in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal on Sunday night looking for an unexpected two-game lead in the best-of-seven series. The opening faceoff is a little after 7:00pm Eastern time, with TV coverage on Versus.
Once the Lightning took a 3-2 lead in the last minute of the second period on Steven Stamkos’s power-play goal, the Capitals fell right into Guy Boucher’s trap — literally. Tampa Bay spent the third period frustrating Washington, and especially Alex Ovechkin, with their 1-3-1 defensive setup. The Capitals were forced to the edges in the neutral and the offensive zones, and when Ovechkin tried to go it alone, several Lightning defenders were waiting for him to stop his rush and take the puck away. The Lightning also shut down the high-powered Washington power play, killing all five of their chances with the man advantage. As Tarik Al-Bashir of the Washington Post points out (registration may be required), the Capitals were offside three times on 5-on-4 situation, and the Lightning generated as many shots short-handed (five) as the Capitals did on the power play. The Lightning are now 39-for-40 killing off penalties in the playoffs, an amazing 97.5%.
Tampa Bay’s biggest issues in Game 2 are injuries. Simon Gagne fell awkwardly in the first period of Game 1 after a clean hit from Scott Hannan and did not return. Neither did Pavel Kubina after being elbowed into the glass by Jason Chimera. While the team has officially listed them as day-to-day with "upper body injuries", the two are not expected to be in the lineup on Sunday night. Now that their AHL affiliate, the Norfolk Admirals, have finished their season, the Lightning have called up a total of six players, including Blair Jones and Mattias Ritola. According to Damian Cristodero of the St. Petersburg Times, one of those players is likely to replace Gagne in the lineup. Cristodero also reports Randy Jones, who hasn’t played since early March due to a combination of injury and defensive depth, would step in for Kubina.
One interesting stat: The only other time the Lightning and Capitals met in the playoffs, the road team won the first two games of the series. The only difference is that it was the Capitals who won Games 1 and 2 in Tampa in 2003, and then they proceeded to lose four straight as Martin St. Louis sent them home in triple overtime of Game 6.
The Tampa Bay Lightning started off their second-round series with a 4-2 win over the Washington Capitals using great penalty killing and determination. The heavily-penalized Bolts killed five Capitals power plays, continuing a trend they started against the Pittsburgh Penguins, when they only allowed one power-play goal in 35 chances during their first-round series.
With an early goal in the first period by Sean Bergenheim, the Bolts asserted their presence against the top-seeded Capitals. Less than two minutes later, however, the Capitals quickly answered with a goal by Alexander Semin. The Bolts were able to hold the score at 1-1 for the rest of the first period, killing two penalties and having a goal by Washington's Brooks Laich disallowed after replay officials ruled it had been kicked into the net.
The Capitals increased their lead in the opening minutes of the second period when right wing Eric Fehr put the puck in the net off a botched faceoff in the Lightning end. Late in the period, Steve Downie scored the equalizer for Tampa Bay with a well-placed backhand over Capitals goalie Michal Neuvirth's right shoulder. Then with half a minute left in the second, Steven Stamkos followed suit with a backhand into the net off a roughing penalty against the Capitals.
In the third period, the Lightning survived two more Capitals power plays and finished the night off with Dominic Moore scoring into an empty net with seconds left for a 4-2 final.
The only times the Capitals scored were off of Lightning unforced errors. Alexander Semin's goal was off an easily intercepted pass made by Lightning defensemen Brett Clark. Eric Fehr's goal was a result of the Lightning misplacing their defensmen during a faceoff in Lightning territory. In fact, Fehr's goal has not been the first goal off a faceoff in the Lightning zone in the playoffs. Will this be the last?
Game 2 will be Sunday night at 7:00pm Eastern time from the Verizon Center in Washington as the Lightning look to take a surprising 2-0 lead in the series.
Coming into this series, the Washington Capitals powerplay was portrayed as lethal, given enough room to maneuver. The Lightning penalty kill didn't give an inch, and the Caps went 0 for 5 on the powerplay as the Bolts won Game One by a score of 4-2 behind goals by Dominic Moore, Steve Downie, Steven Stamkos, and Sean Bergenheim.
Bergenheim opened the scoring and extended his three game scoring streak with his team-high fourth goal of the playoffs on the rebound after Downie failed to complete a wraparound. Alexander Semin wasted no time in answering back as he fired in an equalizer from a pass by Marco Strum.
Downie's night was not over, however, as late in the second, he scored off a backhand chip shot that looped up and over Michal Neuvirth's shoulder as he struggled to recover from a sprawling save.
Steven Stamkos, recovering from a slow start to the playoffs as he struggled to get his footing on the larger stage, scored his third playoff goal on a powerplay after Jason Chimera was called for a roughing penalty.
The third period was a physical, bruising exchange of possession as the Lightning penalty kill stymied the Capitals special teams before Dominic Moore completed the night with an empty-net goal with 40 seconds left.
The Lightning take their 1-0 series lead to Sunday night's Game 2, which will be available on Versus beginning at 7 PM.
The Lightning's offense settled down in time to put themselves in the driver's seat as Steve Downie and Steve Stamkos scored within three and a half minutes of each other to put the Lightning ahead by a goal with twenty minutes remaining.
Steve Downie caught Michal Neuvirth out of position and chipped the puck up and over Neuvirth's shoulder off a backhand while skating backward after Vincent Lecavalier was stopped inches away from the goalmouth.
Soon after, Jason Chimera was sent to the penalty box for a roughing penalty on Pavel Kubina after sending him into the boards. Steven Stamkos capitalized on the opportunity, using the man advantage as he fired a shot into the back of the net from point-blank range.
Still being outhit 20-8, the Lightning's offense has settled into their game in the second period, narrowing the shot differential to 23-20.
Nate Thompson and Matias Ohlund were caught on the wrong foot after a face off, leaving a streaking Eric Fehr a clear path to goal. The Capitals didn't waste the chance, seizing a 2-1 lead halfway through the second period.
The Lightning had a chance to equalize as the 6th minute when Boyd Gordon was sent to the penalty box for slashing Marc-Andre Bergeron, but could not pull the trigger as Vincent Lecavalier was stopped at point blank range by Michael Neuvirth.
Roloson had to stand on his head at times as he suffered another barrage of shots, including a sequence that ended with Brett Clark slapping the puck away from an open net as Roloson was left sprawling from a save.
Simon Gagne left the game early in the first after hitting his head on the ice, and will not return tonight. Early indications are he does not have a concussion, but out of an abundance of caution, he will not return to the game.
Sean Bergenheim opened the scoring early as the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Washington Capitals began the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Bergenheim, on a three game scoring streak, nipped in a goal off a rebound after an attempted wraparound by Steve Downie.
The NHL Eastern Conference Semifinals begin tonight, with the Tampa Bay Lightning (46-25-11, 103 Points, 5th East) taking on the Washington Capitals (48-23-11, 107 Points, 1st East) at the Verizon Center in DC. The Lightning, coming back from an improbable 3-1 deficit in the first round of the playoffs, now have an even more challenging task in taking on division-rival the Washington Capitals.
The Lightning and Caps both fought for first place in the Eastern Conference during the 2011 regular season, but the Caps came out on top after a late surge -- buoyed by the strong defensive play of goalie Michal Neuvirth. One obstacle the Lightning must crack tonight will be that very talent Czech goalie: Neuvirth had a Goal Allowed Average (GAA) of 1.38 in the first playoff series against the Rangers.
On paper, this match up certainly favor the Caps, but like John Fontana of Raw Charge said:
We're 0-0. Roloson's got a 0.00 and 0 shots faced in 0 games. Of course, reflection on a statistic as a base gives you a brief glimpse of what you may expect... but it guarantees nothing.
Location: Verizon Center, Washington, DC
Game Time: 7 p.m. ET
Broadcast: Sun Sports, Versus (cable), and 970 WFLA AM (radio)
For additional Lightning coverage, commentary, and community, head to Raw Charge.
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