Tampa Bay outlasts and wears out the Capitals.
Tampa Bay Leads the Series 1-0
Dwayne Roloson allowed 2 goals on 28 shots for the win. He rebounded from a goal that went through him on Washington's first goal off a horrific turnover by Brett Clark and got some help from a post before putting it in cruise control. I still don't like seeing the early goal through Roli because it killed a lot of Lightning momentum, but he was good enough to keep the Lightning in the game until they recovered and got back on schedule.
02:12 TB Bergenheim (4), Downie (7), Lundin (2)
04:08 WSH Semin (4), Sturm (2)
01:51 WSH Fehr (1), Chimera (1), Johansson (3)
16:17 TB Downie (2), Lecavalier (5), Purcell (5)
19:28 TB Stamkos (3), Brewer (5), Lecavalier (6)(PP)
19:20 TB Moore (2), Hall (2), Hedman (2)(EN)
Steven Stamkos, Steve Downie, and Sean Bergenheim (Thor!) were the game's three stars.
It's hard not to be proud of this club. They came out flying and got the early lead, but lost momentum after the Clark turnover and semi-softie and after losing Simon Gagne to an apparent concussion. But they hung into the game, got a little luck with a post on a Semin shot and a waved off goal, Brewer made a nice play to keep a goal out, and they kept it within 1. And, when you keep it within 1 on the road, you're dangerous. A little lucky goal by Steve Downie and away the Lightning went. The final 30 minutes of that game were completely lopsided, and when the Caps gave the Lightning a cheap power play at the end of the 2nd Period, the Lightning were all too happy to oblige them by converting to take the lead. Kudos to Guy Boucher and the coaching staff for sensing the opportunity there and finally taking Stamkos off the point and putting him back in the left wing circle. That allowed him to go to the net and get the game winning goal. This is very important: if Stammer gets hot from the left wing circle on the power play, they sky is the limit for the Tampa Bay Lightning in these playoffs. That is an unstoppable weapon that can allow the Lightning to get a quick goal or two any time the other team gets in the box. That means any tie game can quickly become a Lightning lead, any 1 goal Lightning lead can get insurance in the blink of an eye, and no 1 or 2 goal lead is really safe. That's a weapon. Remember how lethal Brad Richards was to the Flyers in the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals? That was an aberration in Richards' career. We've seen Stamkos get that hot on the power play for one or two months at a stretch. It'd sure be nice if he could get that hot right now.
After that, the Lightning worked their 1-3-1 to perfection, and their penalty kill was special tonight. Boucher and his assistants completely outcoached Boudreau and his assistants. Seriously. They made them look like buffoons. It wasn't even a contest.
Also, when you consider the Lightning's ability to outwork the Caps despite the fact they only had 2 day's rest compared to 5 day's rest and they were down to 16 skaters with Gagne and Kubina dropping out of the contest with what looked like concussions, it was an amazing effort. Guys like Moore, Thompson, and Bergenheim were superlative, and you could see the top line guys like Lecavalier feeding off their effort.
But, that's just 1 win out of the 4 the Lightning need, and they may be without Gagne and Kubina in Game 2. Washington's going to throw the kitchen sink at the Lightning early in Game 2, and the team did not play as mistake-free and disciplined in Game 1 as they're going to need to if they want to take the series win. So, they can't rest on their laurels. That's a lesson I think they learned in the Penguins series, and I'm sure Coach Boucher is going to gently remind them it could've very easily been 3-1 or 4-1 Caps after 1 period were it not for some luck and some breaks. There's still a ton of work to be done if the Lightning are going to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals, but tonight showed a glimpse of what is possible.
But, they've got to be better than Game 1 to win Game 2. Washington's not going to go quietly into the night. They sense their window as an organization may be starting to close and they may never have a better opportunity to win it all than this season. Their urgency will be there. The Lightning have to be technically sound, stay disciplined, and hope they can turn Washington's urgency into a liability like they did tonight (see: Alexander Ovechkin's tongue dragging on the ice all 3rd Period). The formula is there, and it's been proven to work. But it's about to be tested in much more extreme conditions on Sunday.
Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.