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Capitals v Lightning - 2011 Stanley Cup Conference Semifinals

Youthful Lightning keeping an even keel

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

TAMPA, Fla. -- Prior to the start of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, players such as Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman -- key contributors for the Tampa Bay Lightning -- had never experienced a playoff game in the NHL.
 
Yet, here are the Lightning, the fifth-place finisher in the Eastern Conference, with a 3-0 lead in the second round against the Washington Capitals, perhaps just hours away from pulling to within eight victories of a Stanley Cup championship.
 
One has to wonder if nerves will be running through the veins of Stamkos and Hedman on Wednesday night, when the puck drops for Game 4 at the St. Pete Times Forum. Stamkos, whose highlight-reel tally erased a 3-2 deficit less than six minutes into the third period on Tuesday, says he's been relying on veterans like captain Vincent Lecavalier and alternate captain Martin St. Louis to remain level-headed.

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Caps miss their chance to close out Game 3

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Washington Capitals were once the most feared offensive team in hockey, seemingly able to score a goal whenever they needed to – and often regardless of the degree of difficulty.

That's what made Mike Knuble's visible frustration after Washington's 4-3 loss in Game 3 to the Tampa Bay Lightning so poignant. Knuble was almost in disbelief about how the Lightning have been able to find offense when they need it in this series, which Tampa Bay now leads 3-0.

Knuble knows that type of team well -- his Capitals used to be the same way. Washington finally had a lead in the third period in this series, only to see it vanish in a span of 24 seconds.

"It's like they're uncanny when they want to get a goal," Knuble said. "It's like they just snap their fingers or hit a button. They just dial it up. You see, it's like they're flipping a switch. When they're down they're just like, they know they're gonna score. I don't know what it is. It leaves you flabbergasted; you don't know what to say about it.
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Stamkos delivers when Lightning needed a goal

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

TAMPA, Fla. -- Trailing 3-2 in the third period on Tuesday night, the Tampa Bay Lightning needed someone to step up with a big goal.
Enter Steven Stamkos.

A tremendous offensive weapon, Stamkos fired a laser from the between the circles at 5:23 of the third period and Ryan Malone scored 24 seconds later as the Lightning moved within a victory of the Eastern Conference Final with a 4-3 victory against the Washington Capitals at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Stamkos, who now has four goals this postseason, spoke with reporters after the game.
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Ovechkin: 'We're going to win'

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

TAMPA, Fla. -- Alex Ovechkin had one of his best periods of the season to help the Washington Capitals claim a rare lead against the Tampa Bay Lightning going into the second intermission. However, he and his teammates couldn't duplicate their effort in the final 20 minutes.

Ovechkin finished Game 3 with a goal, an assist and five shots on net in more than 24 minutes of ice time. He was on the ice for 5:45 of the final 11:01 as the Capitals tried to rally after yielding two quick goals, but the Lightning prevailed 4-3 and now lead this Eastern Conference Semifinal series 3-0.

Ovechkin's goal came on the power play, but it was during a two-man advantage as the Capitals again struggled to generate offense in 5-on-4 situations. Mike Green got a shot to the net from near the right point, and Ovechkin was able to find the puck in the ensuing scrum to beat Dwayne Roloson, who had lost his stick during the play.

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Caps intent on avoiding falling into 3-0 hole

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

"It is very important game for us. We don't want to give them 3-0 with the series. We want to come back home with two wins." -- Alex Ovechkin

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Washington Capitals know a comeback from being down three games to none is possible, but not very likely.

That makes Game 3 of this Eastern Conference Semifinal series Tuesday night at St. Pete Times Forum the closest thing to a must-win endeavor there is without it officially being an elimination contest.

"This is a pivotal game for sure," forward Matt Bradley said. "I'm not saying we couldn't come back from 3-0, but we don't even want to have that in our minds. We want to win tonight and get back in this series. The further you dig your hole, the harder it is to get out. We are confident we can come back no matter what the games are, but we would like to win tonight because we need to start going back the other way."
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Fleming remains at forefront of Bolts' thoughts

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

"What he's going through right now, obviously our prayers are with him. I've known him for many years. He's a great man. I hope everything goes well for him." -- Vincent Lecavalier

TAMPA -- If the Tampa Bay Lightning manage to take a 3-0 series lead in this Eastern Conference Semifinal against the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night, it's a safe bet they will dedicate the victory to one very special member of their organization.
 
While the Lightning spent Tuesday morning preparing for Game 3 at the St. Pete Times Forum, assistant coach Wayne Fleming was undergoing surgery to remove a brain tumor. Fleming, 60, was diagnosed with the malignant tumor last month. He also had surgery on April 7, a strong indication of just how serious his condition is.
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Lightning not thinking about celebrating

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

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.
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On comeback trail, Caps need more from Ovi

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Alex Ovechkin has already scored a critical goal for the Washington Capitals in their Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

But, as it tends to be for the very best players in sport, expectations are incredibly high for Washington's captain. Given that, the Capitals are likely going to need more from Ovechkin if they are to stage an improbable comeback after falling behind 2-0 in this best-of-7 series with a pair of home losses to the upset-minded Tampa Bay Lightning.
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Caps understand time is short to put it together

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

"We know it's a huge challenge and a huge task here. I think you've gotta embrace it, not be upset about what's happened. You've got to push forward and try to be better so I guess you do want to be a little upset, but not in a negative way -- use it to move forward."
-- Mike Knuble

WASHINGTON -- Members of the Washington Capitals have the proper historical examples to draw upon -- personal examples from previous seasons plus a much more recent one courtesy of the Boston Bruins.

But make no mistake, the Capitals -- down two games to none and about to play the next two contests of this Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the Tampa Bay Lightning at St. Pete Times Forum -- are in a bit of a predicament.

Washington's power play has failed it in the first two games, and missed chances at burying the Lightning early became the Capitals undoing after unlucky bounces and the failure to succeed at minor details became a much bigger deal in a pair of one-goal defeats.
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Ovi's goal can't get Caps a win

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- When Alex Ovechkin sent Game 2 of this Eastern Conference Semifinal series to overtime with a dramatic goal, it appeared another great memory in his career was unfolding.

As it ended up, Ovechkin's heroics were for naught as Tampa Bay's Vinny Lecavalier scored  6:19 into overtime on Sunday night to give the Lightning a 3-2 victory and a 2-0 lead in this series.

"It seemed like it was lining up like that -- you could see the story being written there and what was going to happen," Mike Knuble said. "We were pretty excited coming in here and ready to play. They're a little bit shorthanded with guys injured and we felt our depth would pay off especially if the game went longer, but we didn't get that far."

Ovechkin rallied the Capitals from a 2-1 deficit by scoring with 1:07 remaining in the third period. Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman tried to get the puck out of his zone but didn't get enough on his clearing try.
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Quote of the Day

My job was to get that puck and put it on net, and his job was not letting me do it. I got the best of that, but that game's over and to be honest I already forgot about it.

— Canadiens forward Alex Galchenyuk on his late game-tying goal in Montreal's 2-1 OT win
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