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Lightning not thinking about celebrating

By Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

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Lightning not thinking about celebrating
The Lightning may be up 2-0 in their series with Washington as they come home for Games 3 and 4, but Tampa Bay is staying focused after making a big comeback of their own in the first round.
TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning have been full of surprises this postseason.

It began in the opening round, when the Bolts rallied from a 3-1 deficit to oust the Pittsburgh Penguins in seven games. And now, here they are in the Eastern Conference Semifinal, back home with a 2-0 lead on the No. 1 seed, the Washington Capitals.

Yet, Lightning coach Guy Boucher refuses to hear any talk of where these teams are heading into Game 3 on Tuesday night at the St. Pete Times Forum. As far as Boucher is concerned, his club isn't up 2-0.

"For me, it's one game and every game is a championship game," Boucher said during a conference call with reporters Monday afternoon. "That's what we've tried to do all year long. We never tried to look at the standings. We never stressed where we were in the big picture. We kept it very limited to what we have to do.

"Basically, it's walking on a tight rope. If you think you're high and you look down, you're going to start wobbling. If you look up because you think you're good enough, you'll be shaky. If you just look ahead and if you just focus on the task and what you need to do, you tend to do things the right way. That's what we've been doing. The players are extremely focused on the moment."

If any team realizes a series isn't over until the fourth victory is attained, it's the Lightning. With their backs against the wall three straight times in Round 1, the Bolts managed to win Games 5, 6 and 7 to advance. It's exactly why nobody within the organization is ready to celebrate.

"We were losing 3-1 and came back against Pittsburgh," said captain Vincent Lecavalier, who scored the game-winner in overtime Sunday night. "It really shows that anything can happen in playoffs. We're up 2-0 and we're happy about it, but we can't put our guards down for sure. We have to just push and push. We know in playoffs anything can happen. We proved it in the first series."

Tampa Bay survived a barrage of shots in Game 2, as it was outshot 16-3 in the second period yet survived due to the sparkling play of goaltender Dwayne Roloson. Special teams were also a factor, as the Lightning managed to kill off six Washington power plays.

Indeed, what the Lightning are accomplishing is beginning to mirror what Jaroslav Halak and the Montreal Canadiens were able to do achieve these Capitals in the opening round of last year's playoffs.

"I didn't really watch that series," Lecavalier said Monday. "I know that Halak was great last year. I guess you can compare it. Rollie has just been phenomenal. We've been playing pretty well as a team. We were coming off a seven-game series against Pittsburgh, a tough series. I really felt (Sunday) night it could have gone their way and Rollie really made the big saves to keep us in there.

"We're up 2-0 and we're happy about it, but we can't put our guards down for sure. We have to just push and push. We know in playoffs anything can happen. We proved it in the first series."

That's why Boucher won't acknowledge the fact that his club is just two wins away from the Eastern Conference Finals. He knows those two victories won't be attained easily.

"For me, the minute you start looking at pressure, you start looking at failure," Boucher said. "It's 0-0 starting tomorrow. It makes no difference if we're up 2-1 or 3-0. Our approach emotionally, technically, tactually, mentally will not change. That's been the key to our success. We've done it all year. We've never focused on the standings."

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL
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