Coach Guy Boucher and his players know there’s still much work to be done to pull off an upset in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
With the top-seeded Capitals vowing to find a way to overcome their slow start in the best-of-seven matchup, the Lightning know first-hand why they can’t take anything for granted when the series resumes with Game 3 on Tuesday night.
Tampa Bay rallied a 3-1 deficit to eliminate the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round.
Boucher shrugged off a suggestion Monday that his team finds itself in a reverse role returning home after winning twice on the road to begin the series.
“It’s because for me, the roles are not reversed. For me, it’s one game, and every game’s a championship game,” the first-year coach said. “That’s what we try to do all year long. We never try to look at standings. We never stressed where we were in the big picture. We kept it very limited to what we have to do.
“I think it’s basically like walking on a tightrope. If you think you’re high and you look down, you’ll start wobbling. If you look up because you think you’re not good enough you start wobbling, too, and you’ll be shaky,” Boucher added. “You just look ahead, and if you focus on the task and what you need to do … you tend to do things the right way.”
Vincent Lecavalier’s goal 6:19 into overtime gave the fifth-seeded Lightning 3-2 victory Sunday night and left the Capitals searching for answers to what it will take to get the team’s sputtering power-play on a track before the series gets away.
The Lightning had Monday off, mindful that it needs to conserve as much energy as possible with the next two games being played on consecutive nights at the St. Pete Times Forum.
The Capitals held an optional skate before traveling to Florida. Only about a half-dozen players who appeared in Game 2 participated.
Ovechkin was not among them and did not speak to reporters before the team flight. Coach Bruce Boudreau and Ovechkin’s teammates echoed the two-time league MVP’s contention that the Capitals not only are capable, but confident of bouncing back.
“Well, they have to win four. And we have been in tough situations this year, and we’ve bounced back. And we’re going in there to win Tuesday night,” Boudreau said. “I think the games have been so close that, I mean, it’s one move here, one move there. … It’s not like we’re going to go in there and throw in the towel. We’re ready to play.”
The Capitals outshot the Lightning in each of the first two games, however they’re 0-for-11 on power-play opportunities and Ovechkin has been limited to a single point on the goal he scored with just over a minute left in regulation to send Game 2 into overtime.
Lightning goaltender Dwayne Roloson continued to sparkle, stopping 35 of 37 shots while also helping Tampa Bay’s penalty-kill unit extend its success in the playoffs.
“Pittsburgh was 1 for 35. We’re 0 for 11. So they’ve got to be doing a good job,” Boudreau said. “But I still think we could generate more opportunities to score.”