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Capitals v Lightning - 2011 Stanley Cup Conference Semifinals

McPhee: Any changes likely to come from within

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- After the Washington Capitals were upset by the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs, general manager George McPhee resisted the idea of wholesale change for an organization that had three consecutive playoff disappointments.

After this year's second-round sweep by Tampa Bay, McPhee faces another offseason full of more questions than answers -- and 12 added months of added apprehension from a Washington fan base desperate to see postseason success that matches the team's regular-season achievements.

"In my own mind I know and I could see it during the series and all through the playoffs what I want to do for next season -- and it's crazy, even during games, I'm writing down lineups for next year based on the way things are going, the way people are playing and what we have in our organization," McPhee said Thursday as members of the organization addressed the media on "breakdown day." "There's a certain place I want to get to with the team and I think we have it within our organization to get there."

Bergenheim emerging as a scoring sensation

David Kalan - Staff Writer

Growing up in Finland in the 1990s, Teemu Selanne was the obvious player to look up to, and Tampa Bay Lightning forward Sean Bergenheim did just that, but other stars of the day caught his eye like Pavel Bure and Eric Lindros. In a conference call Thursday afternoon, Bergenheim noted that he mailed cards to Bure and Lindros and received them back with autographs.

"I was pumped about that," he said.

But Bergenheim's inspiration to play the game came from a much closer source. In his childhood he lived in Espoo, a suburb just outside Helsinki, as the son of an airline hostess and a father who owned a company in the computer business, and while his parents introduced him to several sports in his youth, hockey was the one that stuck.

It shouldn't be a surprise that Bergenheim eventually gravitated to hockey since other family members had played it, specifically his father, but his track to the NHL didn't exactly go as planned.

McPhee wants Boudreau back as Caps' coach

According to Washington Capitals General Manager George McPhee, he expects Bruce Boudreau to return as the team's coach next season.

"I expect him to be back, yeah," McPhee told reporters on Thursday. "He's a good coach."

Despite finishing atop the Eastern Conference, the Capitals were swept from the playoffs by the Tampa Bay Lightning, falling 5-3 in Game 4 on Wednesday.

Capital changes certain; scope still unknown

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

"Will there be changes? Of course there's going to be, and who knows what it is going to be. ... As far as who it is going to be -- there will be some different faces here next year."
-- Mike Knuble

TAMPA, Fla. -- It is approximately 270 steps from the visiting locker room here at the St. Pete Times Forum to the end of the loading dock where the bus waits to ferry visiting teams to the airport.

Alex Ovechkin made that walk alone Wednesday after the Washington Capitals were swept out of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs by the Tampa Bay Lightning with a 5-3 loss in Game 4 of this Eastern Conference Semifinal series.

General Manager George McPhee and coach Bruce Boudreau made the walk together, with the coach pulling his briefcase behind him. It isn't hard to visualize the looks on their faces -- a combination of frustration, anger, and maybe most of all, disbelief.

Bolts know they haven't won anything yet

Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor

"We haven't won the Cup yet. There's a lot of will in this room and good character and young guys -- similarities to the '04 team -- but that was a great team and a great run. This team has its own identity with a lot of different players." -- Martin St. Louis

TAMPA, Fla. -- The celebration on the ice was brief. The music was blaring in the locker room only for a few moments.
And now, it's back to business for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Sure, the team achieved something few thought they could do Wednesday when they completed a four-game sweep of the Washington Capitals in this Eastern Conference Semifinal with a 5-3 win at the St. Pete Times Forum.
But the Lightning aren't in this to win two rounds and go golfing. They're in this to win it.

Caps look for answers after sweep by Lightning

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

TAMPA, Fla. -- After the Washington Capitals dispatched the New York Rangers in five games of their opening-round series, it appeared all of the questions about the team from the previous three postseasons had been answered.

Washington played strong, playoff-style defense. Michal Neuvirth left no doubt about the goaltending. The Capitals were able to thrive in close games and succeed. The power play helped just enough and Washington was able to finish a series without needing seven games.

Twelve days later, the questions are back.

Tampa Bay ended Washington's 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs run swiftly, winning four games in six days and advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals -- while the Capitals are left to ponder where it went wrong.

Bergenheim steps into scoring role for Lightning

Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor

TAMPA, Fla. -- Sean Bergenheim is making a quite a name for himself in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The speedy forward scored two more goals on Wednesday night as the Tampa Bay Lightning completed a four-game sweep of the Washington Capitals with a 5-3 win at the St. Pete Times Forum.

With his pair of tallies, Bergenheim now leads the Lightning with 7 goals this postseason. He spoke with reporters after Wednesday's victory.

Ovi: "We didn't win the game"

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

TAMPA, Fla. -- Alex Ovechkin began Game 4 of this Eastern Conference Semifinal series with one of his signature moves -- he sought out one of the opposing defensemen expected to mark him and nailed him into the boards on the first shift.

It was the type of play a captain would make to try and energize his teammates. Ovechkin continued to keep up the physical play the Washington Capitals needed to win to avoid elimination, but eventually it cost him.

His charging penalty led to a power-play goal by the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Capitals were chasing -- just as they did for much of this series. Tampa Bay turned back two bids by Washington to come back and finished off the Capitals with a 5-3 victory to complete the series sweep.

"I think our best player tonight was our best player," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said of Ovechkin. "In the last two games he showed why he's one of the top 10 players on the planet. I thought he did everything he could."

Back-to-back games could be issue for Roloson

David Kalan - Staff Writer

The Tampa Bay Lightning had its season on the brink not too long ago, as it trailed Pittsburgh 3-1 in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The deficit appeared deep, but the Lightning had a trump card in their pocket in goalie Dwayne Roloson, who aside from playing exceptionally well this postseason, also boasted a perfect career record when facing elimination in the playoffs.

With Roloson in net, the Lightning have won not just the three straight needed to defeat the Penguins, but three more to start their second-round series with the top-seeded Capitals. That's six playoff wins in a row.

If the Lightning wind up winning the Stanley Cup this spring -- as far off as that prospect is right now -- Roloson already has made a compelling case to be the Conn Smythe Trophy front-runner. He leads the League with 7 postseason wins and leads all goalies with more than two appearances with a 1.92 goals-against average and a .943 save percentage. He's done this while playing nearly 40 minutes more than any other goaltender in the playoffs and facing 36 more shots than any other netminder.

Caps' facing third-period role reversal

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

"Usually in the third period in the year and the years gone by (that is) our best period. And we got outworked in the third period. It's something obviously that's a problem and we have to change it." -- Bruce Boudreau

TAMPA, Fla. -- Despite the dramatic drop in scoring for the Washington Capitals during the regular season, they took solace in knowing they still dominated their opponents after the second intermission.

The Capitals scored 89 goals in the third period and overtime this season -- sixth-most in the League (significantly better than being 19th in total goals). Their success continued in the opening round against the New York Rangers as they added eight goals after the second intermission.

That is what makes Tampa Bay's ability to dominate Washington in the third period so improbable. The Lightning have outscored the Capitals 5-1 in third periods and overtime in the first three games, and it is the big reason why Tampa Bay possesses a commanding 3-0 lead in this Eastern Conference Semifinal series, and can clinch a spot in the Eastern Conference Final with a win Wednesday in Game 4 (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, TSN, RDS).
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