Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Capitals' hopes gone in 24 seconds

Categories: Second Round, Tampa Bay Lightning, WSH vs. TAM, Washington Capitals

Story Tools

Washington Capitals players and coach Bruce Boudreau, third from left, watch the final moments of Game 3 in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday. Tampa Bay won 4-3. (John Raoux/Associated Press) Washington Capitals players and coach Bruce Boudreau, third from left, watch the final moments of Game 3 in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday. Tampa Bay won 4-3. (John Raoux/Associated Press)
The Capitals were cruising along and looked like they were going to make this a series. Then a giveaway by Eric Fehr turned into a Steven Stamkos goal, and 24 seconds later the puck went in off Ryan Malone and the Lightning had a 4-3 lead. They held on to take a commanding series lead.

"We got a little bit complacent, I think, with the lead there," Washington defenseman Karl Alzner said

Now the Capitals are staring at a sweep.

Lightning 'dial it up'

While Washington let up a bit with a lead, the Lightning kept coming. Mike Knuble said it's uncanny how Tampa Bay can just score at will.

"They dial it up," he said. "They just pressed and waited and got one and another 30 seconds later they got another one. It's like they're snapping their fingers."

For the Lightning, it was business as usual.

"We did the things that we talked about," coach Guy Boucher said. "We pushed and obviously we were down one goal so we knew we had to keep going and funnel pucks to the net."

Capitals still believe

History says this series is over. Only three teams in NHL history - the 1942 Maple Leafs, the 1975 Islanders and the 2010 Flyers - have ever erased a 3-0 series deficit to win. Players say they can do it, though Knuble said it has to start with Game 4.

"We've gotta win a game [Wednesday], that's it," he said. "We wanna take it back to Washington and then anything can happen. I don't know."

Alzner said "it's gonna take everything we have." And then some. The Capitals need a miracle.

Stamkos' super wrist shot

Stamkos showed on his goal Tuesday night why he's one of the best scorers in the league. When Viktor Hedman picked off Fehr's clearing attempt, he found Stamkos wide open and the 21-year-old fired what could only be described as a perfect wrist shot - through a screen and over Michal Neuvirth's right shoulder.

"That was a rocket," Malone said. "I thought he had a couple of good chances and you can see he's really starting to take his game now to that next level."

Neuvirth shows cracks

For the first time all playoffs, Washington's 23-year-old starting goalie was not at his best. He allowed a couple of soft goals - one to Sean Bergenheim and another to Vinny Lecavalier that coach Bruce Boudreau said Neuvirth (26 saves on 30 shots) should have stopped. But he also made some spectacular saves to keep the Capitals in it.

"I thought a couple of the goals he should've had, but at the same time when they got the lead he kept us in the game," Boudreau said. "We lost our composure there and had giveaways and he was there to keep us involved in the game."
It would not be a surprise at all if Semyon Varlamov gets the nod to start Game 4.

Green hurt

Capitals all-star defenceman Mike Green suffered what Boudreau termed a "lower-body injury" at some point in Game 3 and did not play most of the third period. Green's final shift ended with 18:37 left in the third, though he remained on the bench.

There were reports that Green was seen limping to the team bus. Sean Collins is the next logical option to play if Green is unable to go with Washington's season on the line.

Roloson survives

Dwayne Roloson had a scare Tuesday night when Alex Ovechkin's stick hit him underneath the mask on the right side of his neck. Roloson writhed in pain on the ice for a while but remained in.

Good thing for the Lightning, too, as he's been a rock for them since they acquired him during the regular season from the Islanders. Roloson made 29 stops Tuesday and put Tampa Bay on the verge of a spot in the Eastern Conference finals.