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.