TAMPA, Fla. | Nothing would make Bruce Boudreau happier Tuesday night than the Capitals scoring on their first shift to open up Game 3. A fast start is always a key to the game, but it’s especially crucial given the Lightning’s patient, trapping style.
“We’re gonna try and come out hard and hopefully score the first goal and not sit back too much but keep our game going and make it as tough on them as we can,” defenseman Jeff Schultz said, “because we know if they score, they’re just gonna sit back in their defensive kinda trap they play and put all the pressure on us.”
Think the Caps don’t have enough pressure already? Try beating that 1-3-1 trap as Dwayne Roloson warms up while the game slogs along.
Tampa Bay is a disciplined team in that players stick to the system in most situations. The Caps understand that.
“They play a system in the neutral zone and they try to play all five guys in their zone,” Alex Ovechkin said. “You know how they’re going to play when they get the lead or how they’re going to play if we get the lead.”
An early Washington advantage could be huge. The Caps then get a chance to be patient themselves.
“You’d like to do it. You’d like to play with the lead,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “It’s an awful lot easier way to dictate the pace of the game when you’ve got the lead. It’s nothing that we’re not unusual – it’s not unusual to us to have to come from behind.”
Down the hallway in the home locker room, the Lightning know what to expect. So they want a fast start, too.
“We’ve gotta come out hard,” Hart Trophy finalist Marty St. Louis said. “We know they will.”
What if the Lightning come out and score first? They’re 5-0 these playoffs when scoring first. The Caps say they won’t panic.
“You always wanna get the first one, but if that doesn’t happen we’re confident we can come back from being behind,” forward Matt Bradley said. “But in a perfect world we’d love to score that first goal.”