NHL Playoff Game Night: 5/1/11 Lightning at Capitals
Washington is thunderstruck at home.
Tampa Bay Leads the Series 2-0
Dwayne Roloson allowed 2 goals on 37 shots for the win. This was, in my opinion, his best game of the playoffs, and he's had a few dandies so far. He did everything the team needed him to do to give them a chance in these first 2 games. He held the Lightning close and bought them time to generate the chance or two they needed to pull out the wins. Outstanding.
19:01 TB Lecavalier (3), St Louis (5), Malone (2)(PP)
14:52 WSH Laich (1), Backstrom (2), Erskine (1)
07:35 TB St Louis (5), Purcell (6)
18:52 WSH Ovechkin (4), Arnott (3), Laich (5)
06:19 TB Lecavalier (4), Purcell (7), Jones (1)
Vincent Lecavalier and Roloson were the game's first and third stars. I said going into these playoffs that this was Captain Vincent Lecavalier's moment to write his legacy in Tampa Bay, and that I had a feeling he was about to do something special. He entered the night at a point a game pace in these playoffs, and tonight his overtime winner was the stuff of folk legends. That finish was as cool and calm as a mountain lake.
I thought Teddy Purcell was the Lightning's best forward tonight. Teddy Bear has been outstanding on the forecheck and once he gets on the puck, it takes the jaws of life to get it away from him. As good as Malone and Lecavalier are at handling the puck for big men, Purcell has been even better in these playoffs. Forget a phone booth. Purcell looks like he could stickhandle in a shoe box and maintain control.
I'd also like to give kudos to Steven Stamkos, who played an extremely well rounded game tonight. The critics are going to point out he didn't hit the scoresheet, but he made some chances and he was forechecking like a demon. If Vincent Lecavalier didn't finish it off in overtime, Stammer might've, because he looked lively and dangerous with those 21 years young legs. There's a reason he led all Lightning forwards in ice time at over 24 minutes.
I'm amazed at how even keeled the team was after the winning goal. I'm floored at how even keeled they were after Ovechkin tied the game up. Other than Hedman, nobody seemed visibly shaken by what happened. It's a testament to Guy Boucher, considering they looked very fragile emotionally just a couple of weeks ago when facing adversity in Game 3 and Game 4 against Pittsburgh. Heck, they didn't even come unraveled despite some very questionable officiating where the Caps were granted 2-3 power plays on some phantom calls while 2 clear cut high sticks on poor Martin St. Louis went uncalled, including one that would've and should've resulted in a key 5-on-3 power play. Boucher and the Lightning are more charitable than I would be, because Chimera should have been suspended for bulldogging Kubina's head into the glass and concussing him in Game 1 and the officiating was horrible tonight. Washinton's being really careless with their sticks too. Ovechkin and Schultz each got called tonight on nasty high sticking penalties, and the Schultz play was almost suspension-worthy in its own right. I can't believe that was called "holding." You'd even get DQ'ed in a match in the WWE for that move.
Doubt starts to creep in for the Washington Capitals now, who are quickly taking over the Ottawa Senators' mantle as the best team in the East never to sniff a Cup. That said, they're not going to lay down, and the Lightning need only to look just 1 series back to see what happens if they're too happy with themselves going into Games 3 and 4 at home. The Lightning have a really great opportunity to get up to a 3-0 lead in this series and put the weight of the world on the Capitals, but they'll need to play even better in Game 3 to make it happen. And, Lightning fans, that means your team is going to need you again so be there and be loud for Game 3 and Game 4.
Blair Jones had 2 penalty minutes and 3 hits in 5:27 in his NHL playoff debut. I thought he brought some energy. He was not bad. I was pretty proud of the young man.