The Washington Capitals had an entire week to prepare for this game but they were still unable to beat the Lightning. The Lightning, flying to DC straight after their Game 7 victory in Pittsburgh, were still riding a wave of emotions from that victory. They also had more inspiration, as their assistant coach, Wayne Fleming, is suffering from a brain tumor, and they lost star winger Simon Gagne to injury after a Scott Hannan bodycheck.
The Caps fell behind early on a Sean Bergenheim goal, but less than 2 minutes later, Marco Sturm intercepted a clearing attempt and Alex Semin buried it. Eric Fehr put the Caps ahead early in the second, but the Caps' scoring ended there, with the Lightning getting two goals before ther period was over. They tacked on an empty net goal for good measure.
This was a game the Capitals should have won, and they were inches away from blowing it wide open on four occasions. With the score tied 1-1, Brooks Laich tried to kick the puck to his stick and instead kicked it into the goal. Later, on a powerplay, Alexander Semin fired a shot at an open cage that hit the post. And the one that hurt the most was Nicklas Backstrom's tap-in from an empty crease was rejected by defenseman Brett Clark. Then there was Jason Arnott getting to the puck just a half second after Roloson in the crease on what should have been an easy tap-in.
For long stretches of the first period, the Capitals were controlling the play and were able to circumvent the Lightning's neutral zzone scheme. They were able to get good pressure inside the Lightning zone, and they were able to get shots on Roloson, who was not at his best tonight.
Penalties and special teams. The Caps took 3 bad penalties in the second period, two in the offensive zone. Jason Chimera was sitting in the penalty box for an irresponsible hit on Pavel Kubina on the forecheck when Steven Stamkos put the Lightning ahead to stay with just 30 seconds to go in the second period. The Caps had 5 powerplays to the Lightning's 4, but they couldn't cash in. That special teams battle was the difference in the game, and it was the Caps' undisciplined play that got them there in the first place.
Brandon Dubinsky Steve Downie's goal. Oy, that was a tough pill to swallow after the Caps came back from a 1-0 defecit to make it 2-1. Downie got help from Scott Hannan, who deflected the shot over Neuvirth for the game-tying goal.
The injuries. Besides Chimera hurting Pavel Kubina on the play that drew the penalty, Scott Hannan threw a monster body check that took Simon Gagne to the deck, where his head bounced off the ice. Gagne took a long time to get up after that, and with his history of head and neck injuries, it's not likely we'll see Gagne back in this series.
Check out the Raw Charge Recap.