2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs – Semifinals Game 3 Recap
Eastern Conference Semifinal Game 3 - Tampa Bay 4, Washington 3 – Lightning leads series, 3-0
This is a scene that’s become all too familiar over not just the past three or four years in the Beltway, but over the past 30 years. No, we’re not talking about the comedy of national American politics in Washington, D.C. We’re referring to the failures of the Washington Capitals in the NHL playoffs.
Once again, the Capitals – a team that is well-versed in the art of disappointing its fans – are about the head out the door and onto the golf course. They do get another chance to play hockey tonight in Game 4 and extend their season, but their Tuesday night loss in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals means that they’re going to have to do something that only three NHL teams have ever done before.
It’s true: The top seed in the Eastern Conference is on the verge of being swept; unless it can imitate the Philadelphia Flyers’ three-game comeback against the Boston Bruins last May, the Caps – a franchise bereft of a single Stanley Cup – will once again lose far earlier than they or their fans ever anticipated. The Capitals, who have beaten the New York Rangers in two of the last three NHL playoffs, have not won a series against any other team. Knocked out in the second round as a higher-seeded team in 2009, the Capitals lost in the first round as a top seed in 2010 and are now about to bow out of hockey’s postseason in the second round in 2011. These are just the latest flops for an organization that has turned underachieving into a rite of spring in the nation’s capital.
The Tampa Bay Lightning aren’t about to complain.
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The Bolts are taking advantage of every lapse being committed by Washington. The fifth seed in the East is displaying all the resilience the Capitals are failing to bring to the table. Down by a goal early in the second period and then trailing by a goal several minutes into the third period, the Bolts never wavered in their commitment to get the job done. Two goals – one by Steven Stamkos and the other by Ryan Malone – just 24 seconds apart lifted the Bolts from a 3-2 deficit to a rousing one-goal win on Tuesday night at the St. Pete Times Forum. The plucky display has Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher just one win from the East finals and, quite possibly, a ticket to the Montreal Canadiens job several years down the line. It’s hard enough to gain one goal when trailing by a single tally in the third period of a playoff game, but a two-goal flurry in 24 seconds shows just how confident the Lightning are at the moment. The devastatingly short sequence also reveals the extent to which the Capitals are defeated, distracted and downcast.
Seems like just another typical hockey postseason in the District of Columbia. That season will end tonight if the Capitals don’t play with a newfound sense of pride.
By: Matt Zemek
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer
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