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Capitals (48-23-11, 107 Points, 1st East) at Lightning (46-25-11, 103 Points, 5th East)
Eastern Conference Semifinals: Tampa Bay leads 3-0.
Regular Season Series: Washington took the first two meetings of the regular season, scoring six goals in each, before the Lightning evened the season series with consecutive victories, both by way of shutouts. The Capitals won each of the final two meetings of the regular campaign, including one in a shootout to conclude the regular season series.
The Big Story: Tampa Bay has won six straight games and is just one victory away from reaching the Eastern Conference Finals for just the second time in team history. A win in tonight’s game would also mark just the second series sweep in the brief history of the Lightning franchise, as Tampa Bay last won each of the first four games in a postseason series during the 2004 playoffs when it defeated the Montreal Canadiens, also in the second round.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay finds itself in a good position following two straight road victories in the nation’s capital and an additional win in front of its home sellout crowd in Game 3 on Tuesday night. Despite feeling content following Tuesday’s win which allowed them to take a 3-0 series lead, the Lightning are not taking anything for granted, noting after the team’s 4-3 win that the series is not over and that the fourth game is often the most difficult to win. Vincent Lecavalier and Sean Bergenheim continued their torrid goal-scoring pace in Game 3 for Tampa Bay, which fought back from a third-period deficit to earn the win. Steven Stamkos and Ryan Malone also scored just 24 seconds apart within the first six minutes of the final period as the Bolts have now won seven straight postseason games over the Capitals dating back to the 2003 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal matchup between the two teams.
CAPITALS – Washington will fight for its playoff lives tonight, as it sits just one defeat away from being knocked out of the playoffs earlier than expected for the second time in as many seasons. The Capitals enjoyed a solid two periods but failed to seal the deal in the third frame of Tuesday’s Game 3. After outshooting Tampa Bay 27-15 through 40 minutes, the Caps were outshot 15-5 in the third and allowed the Lightning to rally for the 3-0 series lead. After the defeat, head coach Bruce Boudreau acknowledged his team made the mistake of playing things safe and identified that as area for improvement in tonight’s Game 4 if the Capitals wish to send the series back to Washington for another chance at extending their postseason stay.
Who’s Hot: Sean Bergenheim had a five-game point streak snapped in Sunday’s Game 2, but scored again Tuesday night and now comes in with points in all but one of his past seven games, including five goals in that span. Teddy Purcell also has nine points in his past seven games, while Vincent Lecavalier has three goals and two assists in his past four contests. Washington’s Alex Ovechkin is averaging more than a point per game this postseason, with 9 points in eight games. He comes into tonight with goals in two straight games.
Notable Quotable: “Yeah, it sounds commanding, but we all know what's happened in years in the past and obviously with ours in the first round, we know that it's never over until it's over. It's obviously a lot better than 2-1, so we'll take that. We deserved it tonight, especially in the third the way we played. We'll take it from there. We don't have much time to regroup. We've got to refocus, reload and come out hard.” – Steven Stamkos, following Tuesday’s 4-3 win in Game 3
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