The Tampa Bay Lightning aren’t impressed with their surprising
2-0 NHL playoff lead over the Washington Capitals.
Coach Guy Boucher and his players know there’s still much work
to be done to pull off an upset in the Eastern Conference
With the top-seeded Capitals vowing to find a way to overcome
their slow start in the best-of-seven matchup, the Lightning know
first-hand why they can’t take anything for granted when the series
resumes with Game 3 on Tuesday night.
Tampa Bay rallied a 3-1 deficit to eliminate the Pittsburgh
Penguins in the first round.
Boucher shrugged off a suggestion Monday that his team finds
itself in a reverse role returning home after winning twice on the
road to begin the series.
”It’s because for me, the roles are not reversed. For me, it’s
one game, and every game’s a championship game,” the first-year
coach said. ”That’s what we try to do all year long. We never try
to look at standings. We never stressed where we were in the big
picture. We kept it very limited to what we have to do.
”I think it’s basically like walking on a tightrope. If you
think you’re high and you look down, you’ll start wobbling. If you
look up because you think you’re not good enough you start
wobbling, too, and you’ll be shaky,” Boucher added. ”You just
look ahead, and if you focus on the task and what you need to do
… you tend to do things the right way.”
Vincent Lecavalier’s goal 6:19 into overtime gave the
fifth-seeded Lightning 3-2 victory Sunday night and left the
Capitals searching for answers to what it will take to get the
team’s sputtering power-play on a track before the series gets
The Lightning had Monday off, mindful that it needs to conserve
as much energy as possible with the next two games being played on
consecutive nights at the St. Pete Times Forum.
The Capitals held an optional skate before traveling to Florida.
Only about a half-dozen players who appeared in Game 2
Ovechkin was not among them and did not speak to reporters
before the team flight. Coach Bruce Boudreau and Ovechkin’s
teammates echoed the two-time league MVP’s contention that the
Capitals not only are capable, but confident of bouncing back.
”Well, they have to win four. And we have been in tough
situations this year, and we’ve bounced back. And we’re going in
there to win Tuesday night,” Boudreau said. ”I think the games
have been so close that, I mean, it’s one move here, one move
there. … It’s not like we’re going to go in there and throw in
the towel. We’re ready to play.”
The Capitals outshot the Lightning in each of the first two
games, however they’re 0-for-11 on power-play opportunities and
Ovechkin has been limited to a single point on the goal he scored
with just over a minute left in regulation to send Game 2 into
Lightning goaltender Dwayne Roloson continued to sparkle,
stopping 35 of 37 shots while also helping Tampa Bay’s penalty-kill
unit extend its success in the playoffs.
”Pittsburgh was 1 for 35. We’re 0 for 11. So they’ve got to be
doing a good job,” Boudreau said. ”But I still think we could
generate more opportunities to score.”
The coach rejected the notion, though, that Ovechkin has to do
more if the Southeast Division champions are going to come back to
win the series.
”Everybody wants more from Alex. I think he’s trying out there.
He’s working hard,” Boudreau said. ”What are you going to say?
… We need more from everybody. We don’t just need more from
Tampa Bay’s power-play has produced a goal in each of the first
two games. Lecavalier scored twice and Martin St. Louis, a finalist
for league MVP, had his first goal of the series as the Lightning
claimed Game 2 despite playing without injured left wing Simon
Gagne and defenseman Pavel Kubina, who remain day to day.
Washington endured an eight-game losing streak in December and
insists there’s no reason to panic.
”You’ve just got to keep plugging,” left wing Jason Chimera
said. ”We’ve been there before – this team’s won 14 in a row and
nine in a row, so we can do it.”
The Capitals even feel the series schedule, which does not
include a day off between Games 3 and 4, could work to their
Provided they first win Tuesday night.
”If there’s a team that can do it, it’s our team,” defenseman
John Carlson said. ”We got the guys in here – the workhorses in
here – to do it. And I think back-to-back games will be good for
us. We get hot here, and then it’s back (to Washington) for Game 5.
We’ve got to do the same thing that they did to us, really.”
It’s the Lightning’s job to prevent that.
”We’re up 2-0. We’re happy about it, but we can’t put our
guards down,” Lecavalier said. ”We’ve got to keep going, got to
”We’re playing a team now that can easily win four in a row,”
Boucher said before rejecting a suggestion that there’s pressure on
the Lightning to take advantage of having the next two games at
”For me, the minute you start looking at pressure, you start
thinking of failure,” Boucher said. ”For me, it’s 0-0 starting
(Tuesday night). It’s an isolated game for us. It makes no
difference if we’re 2-0, 3-1 or 3-0. Our approach emotionally,
technically and mentally will not change.”
AP Sports Writer Howard Fendrich in Washington contributed to