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Caps try to even series against Lightning

by John Kreiser /

(Tampa Bay leads best-of-seven series 1-0)

Big story
: The Lightning showed their come-from-behind seven-game victory against Pittsburgh in the opening round was no fluke by overcoming a 2-1 deficit on the way to a 4-2 victory in the series opener on Friday, taking away the Caps’ home-ice advantage. Washington needs a win to avoid going to Florida for Games 3 and 4 in a two-game hole.

Team Scope:

: With offensive stars like Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier, it’s stunning to find Steve Downie on top of the Lightning’s scoring list. But it’s true – with 9 points in eight games, he and linemates Sean Bergenheim and Dominic Moore have given the Bolts a significant offensive boost from the third line.

But not everyone thinks Downie’s production is a surprise.

"He's one of the smartest guys on his team when it comes to controlling the puck and making plays and knowing where to be,” Stamkos said after Saturday’s practice. “He's played great for us and stepped up when we needed him. That's why we've been successful thus far in the playoffs. We have everyone stepping up and leaning on each other -- not just leaning toward one or two guys."

Capitals: Washington went through a midseason change from a run-and-gun team to one than thinks defense before offense. The change helped the Caps finish first in the East and roll over the Rangers in the first round. But after taking a 2-1 lead early in the second period on Friday, the Caps reverted to their old selves, with disappointing results.

"We got caught up when it was 2-1," said coach Bruce Boudreau, who added that instead of "realizing we can win games 2-1, we tried to win it 5-1, and when that happens, it usually backfires on you. ... They got caught up in thinking this was going to be easy and thinking, 'We want to make it 3-1 and 4-1' rather than just batten down the hatches."

Who's hot: Bergenheim has goals in three consecutive games. Lightning goaltender Dwayne Roloson has won his last four starts in the playoffs, allowing just six goals. … Alexander Semin had a goal in Game 1 and leads the Caps with four.

Injury report: Both teams have key players who may miss this game due to injuries sustained in Game 1. The Lightning aren’t saying whether forward Simon Gagne, who left after hitting his head on the ice in the first period, and defenseman Pavel Kubina, who left after being rammed into the glass by Jason Chimera in the second period, will be ready to go. … The Caps hope rookie defenseman John Carlson, who left Friday’s game with an undisclosed injury, will be ready. The Caps said he was “too sore to go” after one shift in the third period. Carlson didn’t skate at Saturday’s practice, though Boudreau hopes he can play. Washington is without forward Mike Knuble (hand) and defensemen Dennis Wideman (leg) and Tom Poti (groin). Both defensemen skated Saturday but aren’t ready to come back.
Stat pack: Tampa Bay is 4-1 on the road in the playoffs. The Caps are 3-1 at home.
Puck drop: Nicklas Backstrom has been doing a lot of good things for Washington, but scoring isn’t one of them – and when you’re a first-line center, putting up points is part of the job description. Backstrom, a 100-point scorer in 2009-10, has just one point in six playoff games this season, despite averaging 23:21 of ice time.

Backstrom knows he’s expected to do more than just be good in his own zone.

"Yeah, absolutely -- and it should be too," Backstrom said of the increased pressure to produce offensively. "I put higher expectations on myself too. I don't really read what the media said but I have high expectations on myself and I should be leading out there and producing."

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