TAMPA, FL - MAY 03: Michal Neuvirth #30 of the Washington Capitals makes the save on Vincent Lecavalier #4 of the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at St Pete Times Forum on May 3, 2011 in Tampa, Florida. The Lightning defeated the Capitals 3-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The Bolts opened up the scoring in the first period, but fell behind after two MIke Knuble and John Carlson scored in the second period. After the setback in the second, the Bolts regained composure in the third period, scoring two final goals within 24 seconds to seal the win.
It's the same story we've heard all year, sticking to the system and keeping your head on straight. "It goes back to structure," said Steven Stamkos, "and everyone paying attention to details and not being afraid to lose.
It looked like Capitals were going to open the lead, with an early disallowed goal on the Caps power play. In a stroke of luck (or justice considering the interference penalty called on Randy Jones), the Caps lost the man advantage with a too many men penalty leading to a 4-on-4 effort.
Ten minutes in, the Capitals tripled the Lightning effort on shots at 9-3, but were beat by Sean Bergenheim's goal opener at 11:03 to open the scoring, rallying in front of the net with Dominic Moore and Steve Downie.
Bergenheim, on a solid line with Dominic Moore and and Steve Downie, continues to impress, totaling 5 goals this series.
The Caps responded early in the second to tie the game with Mike Knuble's goal off of Alex Ovechkin's breakaway 58 seconds in, followed by John Carlson's shot, rocketed from the blue line to take the 2-1 lead for the Caps.
With four minutes left in the second, the Caps turned into power play machines, beginning with a hooking call to Brett Clark, and followed up with another to Adam Hall 30 seconds later to open up a Caps 5-on-3. Roloson was able to fend off a number of shots, but was unable to stop Alexander Ovechkin who came up the slot to raise the score to 3.
Of the penalties and setbacks in the second, Boucher said that the focus wasn't right. "We were killing ourselves."
Steven Stamkos took it back to 3 at the beginning of the period, followed by another goal from Ryan Malone within 24 seconds. Nate Thompson took the shot from the right circle to bring the puck to the net; Malone and Carlson battled for the puck resulting in a quick goal to raise the score to 4-3.
The Capitals had a great opportunity on the power play at 8:57 into the third, but missed the opportunity and were unable to score; they pulled the goalie in the last minute to make up for the dismal third, but the Lightning rallied through the end to take the win.
Despite the win, the Bolts are staying cautious, taking the lesson from other teams who have fallen after 3-game leads. "Realize the magnitude of this game," said Stamkos. "They win, they're right back in the series."
Despite the relentless effort we've seen through this series, and through this season, other events are showing how far the Lightning's character extends past the ice.
Tonight was one of those times, when Guy Boucher confirmed afterwards that Wayne Fleming is awake and alert from surgery. After the win, Fleming was the first thing the team talked about in the locker room.
"He's a fighter," Nate Thompson said, "and he's going through a bigger fight than we are, so we're just trying to go for him."