WASHINGTON -- The faces of the Tampa Bay Lightning players didn't look much different from the expression displayed after the Washington Capitals tied the game with 68 seconds left in regulation on Alex Ovechkin's wrist shot.
"Businesslike" doesn't go far enough to describe the tone in the visiting locker room at Verizon Center moments after Vincent Lecavalier sealed a 3-2 overtime victory in Game 2 of the second-round series.
|Lightning-Capitals: Game 2|
Maybe their muscles, including the ones that control the smile, were tired after playing their fifth game in nine nights -- all victories. Or, the more plausible explanation is that they're grounded thanks to Tampa Bay's deep cast of veteran players -- the eldest, 41-year-old Dwayne Roloson, turned in a 35-save effort on Sunday -- and a headstrong coach, Guy Boucher.
"It's a great feeling to win those two games, but we haven't done anything yet," Martin St. Louis said. "There's nothing done here."
Tampa Bay displayed the poise the Caps lacked in Game 2. Seconds after St. Louis scored the go-ahead goal -- it was actually meant as a pass to Lecavalier that bounded off Caps defenseman Mike Green's skate and in -- Green elbowed Bolts center Steven Stamkos in the head. The Caps didn't allow a goal on that power play, but Lecavalier did score in the first period after Ovechkin was called for a fairly careless high stick that caught Brett Clark.
The winner was started with a long pass up ice from Randy Jones to Teddy Purcell, a sequence set up by what Caps coach Bruce Boudreau called a bad line change where his players "didn't come off anywhere near as quick as they should have."
The Lightning continue to frustrate the Capitals' power play, which went 0 for 6 in Game 2. Washington has yet to tally a goal on their 11 power-play opportunities, a span of 20 minutes, 17 seconds of time on the man advantage.
"It's a tough loss, but give them credit," said Caps forward Brooks Laich, who finished with a goal and an assist. "They capitalized on their opportunity, on our mistake. But you know what? We're down 2-0, but we've been in this position before."
The Capitals opened their first-round series in 2009 against the New York Rangers with back-to-back losses and rebounded to win in seven games. The Caps are also used to long series under Boudreau, who has seen four of the first five series he has coached with the Caps reach Game 7.
"They were a hungry team tonight, and they proved it," Stamkos said. "They came out flying. Our goalie was great, our penalty kill was outstanding again. We can't fool ourselves on this one. They outplayed us."
Boucher could have the services of forward Simon Gagne and defenseman Pavel Kubina -- each out of action due to hits to the head sustained in Game 1 -- back soon. They could prove crucial reinforcements since Games 3 and 4 are played back-to-back (Tuesday-Wednesday).
"Oh yeah, we need rest," Boucher said. "We told them we didn't want to see them until Tuesday. It's been very, very tough for us. To be honest, the guys gave it everything they had today. It's about time we scored that goal. I don't think we could have gone on another period. I was watching [the Nashville Predators-Vancouver Canucks game] last night and it went into the second overtime. I was thinking we can't go a second overtime with the guys that we have."
Fortunately, for the Bolts, it took just 6:19 into OT to put the Bolts two victories away from the conference finals, a place they haven't been since they won the 2004 Stanley Cup. Two of those guys left from that team -- Lecavalier and St. Louis -- could easily think that far back, but it doesn't sound like either are going to.
"It means nothing, really," St. Louis quipped.