Capitals Vs. Lightning, Game 3: Tampa Bay Rallies Back To Win, Take 3-0 Series Lead

It's a commanding lead for the Tampa Bay Lightning after bouncing back and beating the Washington Capitals, 4-3, in Game 3. On Wednesday night, they can clinch a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals.

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Tampa Bay Lightning Imposing Their Will, And There's Nothing Washington Capitals Can Do

Sure, the Capitals didn't play their best game on Tuesday night in Game 3, but that's not why they're on the brink. The Lightning have simply imposed their will.

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Capitals Vs. Lightning Final Score, Game 3: Tampa Bay Wins 4-3

The Washington Capitals appeared to have all of the momentum after their fantastic second period, in which they scored three goals and took a one goal lead, but they were shut out in the third by the Tampa Bay Lightning, as the home side won the game by a final score of 4-3, giving them a 3-0 series lead and a chance to sweep the series on home ice in two days.

The Bolts took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission, thanks to a goal by Sean Bergenheim, his fifth of the playoffs, and some great goaltending from Dwayne Roloson. The Caps were the superior team in the second period, though, as they seriously outplayed their opponents to take a 3-2 lead into the third and final period.

Steven Stamkos scored the first goal of the final period, his fourth of the playoffs. Victor Hedman got credit for an assist, but this goal was almost all Stamkos. Both Stamkos and Hedman did well to create a turnover by the Capitals in their offensive zone, and Stamkos took it from there, creating space for himself in the high slot and ripping a great wrist shot into the top shelf, beating Michal Neuvirth blocker side. After five minutes of the final period, the Bolts were level at 3-3.

Less than a minute later, the Lightning took the lead, scoring what would eventually be the game winning goal. Not long after the faceoff at center ice, Adam Hall flicked a puck behind him into the offensive zone, which Nate Thompson skated onto. From Neuvirth's left, Thompson hit a backhanded pass across the crease, which neither Neuvirth or John Carlson, the defender in front of the goal, were able to deal with. Ryan Malone was crashing the net, and Thompson's pass ended up on his skate, deflecting into the back of the net. The officials reviewed the goal, but determined that Malone did not score with a kicking motion, and therefore, the goal was legal.

In contrast to the first two periods, the Lightning were the much better team in the third period, and the Caps have Neuvirth's goaltending and some luck to thank for the fact that they even had a chance to force overtime at the end of the game, as Tampa Bay could have very easily scored four or more goals in the period. Though, referring to a team who is down 3-0 in a playoff series as "lucky" probably won't sit well with their fans. In any event, Washington is in a hole that they will find it very hard to get out of.

For more on the game and the series, check in with our Lightning vs. Capitals hub and our blogs: Japers' Rink on the Capitals and Raw Charge on the Lightning

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Capitals Vs. Lightning, Game 3: Washington Leads After Two Periods

The Washington Capitals have finally begun to capitalize on their numbers advantage in shots on goal, as well as some bad penalties by the Tampa Bay Lighting. As a result, they lead by a score of 3-2 after the second period, and they will be carrying some serious momentum into the final 20 minutes.

Things didn't go Washington's way in the first, but they didn't waste any time creating their first scoring chance, and subsequently, their first goal at the beginning of the second period. Less than a minute into the game, Alexander Ovechkin made a great steal at his defensive blue line and took off down the ice, beating the Bolts' defenders with his speed. Just like Michal Neuvirth at the end of the second period, Dwayne Roloson made a fantastic low pad save on a backhand attempt by Ovechkin on the breakaway. However, Roloson's teammates fell asleep after the save, thinking the threat was over. This allowed Ovechkin to center the puck and Mike Knuble to tap it in after a scramble, leveling the score at 1-1.

Seven minutes later, the Caps would take the lead on a great goal from John Carlson. During a spell of possession where the Caps got the puck deep in the Tampa Bay zone, Jason Chimera flipped a pass towards the blue line from close to goal. Eric Fehr did well to set up in front of Roloson just as Carlson took his shot, and the Tampa Bay goalie was left powerless to locate the puck as he was screened by both Fehr and two of his own defensemen. The puck went through Victor Hedman's legs into the net, and the Caps went ahead 2-1.

The Bolts got a goal back, thanks to another piece of goalkeeping by Neuvirth and some serious persistence in front of the goal by Vincent Lecavalier. With eight minutes remaining in the period, Martin St. Louis through a puck at the net, and it was deflected slightly by Lecavalier, once again beating Neuvirth five-hole.

Tampa Bay gifted the lead right back to Washington at the end of the period, though, as both Brett Clark and Adam Hall picked up hooking penalties in quick succession, giving the Caps a lengthy five-on-three opportunity. They made the most of it, as Ovechkin scored his team's third goal of the period off of a rebound, with the assists granted to Alexander Semin and Mike Green. It's 3-2 in favor of Washington at the end of the second period, and Caps fans are probably feeling confident that their team can get back into the series.

For more on the game and the series, check in with our Lightning vs. Capitals hub and our blogs: Japers' Rink on the Capitals and Raw Charge on the Lightning

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Capitals Vs. Lightning, Game 3: Tampa Bay Leads After Sloppy First Period

It wasn't the cleanest period of hockey the Tampa Bay Lightning have played so far in the playoffs, but style doesn't matter on the scoreboard, and they'll be satisfied with their 1-0 lead after 20 minutes. The Caps outshot the Bolts by a considerable margin in the first period, but just like the previous two games in this series, that has not translated to goals thus far.

Dwayne Roloson has been good so far while the goal that Michal Neuvirth let in was soft, but it hasn't exactly been a flawless performance so far from the Bolts' netminder. Roloson almost gave away an extremely soft goal in the middle of the period, before his team scored, by accidentally kicking the puck into the net with the back of the skate as he searched for the lost puck. However, thanks to a too many men on the ice penalty committed by the Caps, the goal was disallowed.

Tampa Bay's goal was scored with nine minutes remaining in the period, and it was put in on the rush by Sean Bergenheim. Dominic Moore and Steve Downie picked up the assists on the goal, which was finished off low through the five-hole of Neuvirth. It was a goal the Caps' goalie would like to make back, as he absolutely should have made the save with his stick.

Moore almost doubled the lead with a goal of his own in the final minute of the period, but Neuvirth took a huge step towards redeeming himself after his soft goal by making an absolutely stunning save with his right pad as Moore tried to score with a backhand shot on a breakaway.

For more on the game and the series, check in with our Lightning vs. Capitals hub and our blogs: Japers' Rink on the Capitals and Raw Charge on the Lightning.    

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Capitals Vs. Lightning, Game 3: Odd 6:30 Start Time Can't Be Obstacle For Desperate Caps

It's a must-win Game 3 for the Washington Capitals, heading out on the road to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night at St. Pete Times Forum. The Caps trail the best-of-seven 2011 NHL playoff series two games to zero, and a loss in Game 3 would obviously be quite the back-breaker.

They find themselves in a bit of an odd position. The Caps thoroughly outplayed the Lightning by just about all metrics in Game 2 at Verizon Center, but a bad line change in overtime did them in and cost them the game. Alex Ovechkin led the charge for Washington in Game 2, but they do need to get out to a better start on the road in what is a virtual must-win.

Simon Gagne and Pavel Kubina are still out of the lineup for the Lightning. They each left Game 1 with injuries and are listed as day-to-day -- just as everybody is listed this time of year. Dwayne Roloson was brilliant in Game 2 and, of course, will get the start again for Guy Boucher's bunch.

Michal Neuvirth will stay in goal for the Capitals after a bit of debate on whether or not he should get the start in this game. Of course, Bruce Boudreau has the propensity to yank his goaltenders when his team needs a boost, and obviously, after losing two games to begin the series, the Caps could use a boost. Neuvirth hasn't been nearly as good in Round 2 as he was in Round 1, but Boudreau is sticking to his guns this time.

The game can be seen on Versus and TSN at 6:30 p.m. ET. Yes, 6:30. It's a weird time. 

For more on the game and the series, check in with our Lightning vs. Capitals hub and our blogs: Japers' Rink on the Capitals and Raw Charge on the Lightning.  

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