Just as hopeful as it seemed for the Washington Capitals getting out of Round 1, their fate in Round 2 is equally as quick and stunning as the Tampa Bay Lightning swept the top seed in the Eastern Conference out of the playoffs with a 5-3 win at home.
Once again it would be Sean Bergenheim and Dwayne Roloson standing out as the heroes for Tampa Bay as Bergenheim scored two goals while Roloson stopped 33 Capitals shots in Game 4 to secure the victory.
Bergenheim’s two goals came in the second period to give the Lighting a 3-1 lead and while John Erskine would score for Washington to cut the lead to 3-2 heading into the third. In the third though, Marc-Andre Bergeron and Martin St. Louis would score to make it 5-2 and ice the game. A late John Carlson goal would make it 5-3 but it was all over.
Tampa Bay’s sweep of Washington is stunning because they didn’t just win, they won both convincingly and heart-breakingly for Capitals fans. Close games or blowouts like tonight, Tampa just found ways to get it done. Whether it was high skill or big breaks everything went the way of the Lightning.
It wasn’t just all that that made them quick winners over the Caps, it was a frustrating and stifling defensive plan that found ways to to make everyone except Alex Ovechkin and Mike Knuble wither under the stress. Whether it was poor planning on the part of the Caps, poor countering, or just flat out poor play it’s a fourth straight disappointing end to the season for the Caps.
Getting swept out of this round by a team they ultimately should have beaten will leave lots of questions going into the offseason and most of them will center around Bruce Boudreau and whether or not he should continue to be the head coach. GM George McPhee will also have to answer a lot of questions about his own roster as well as there were a lot of players out on the ice in this series that looked like they’d rather be anywhere but there.
Tampa Bay’s incredible run continues on. After being pushed to the brink against Pittsburgh being down 3-1 at one point in that series, the Lightning have now won seven straight in the playoffs and now they’ll await the winner of the Boston-Philadelphia series to see who they’ll face in the Eastern Conference final. The Lightning are tough, they’re getting offense from three lines, and Dwayne Roloson is playing awfully tough. Whoever faces them in the next round is going to have their hands full.