- The Washington Times - Monday, May 2, 2011

In the past two weeks, the Tampa Bay Lightning have been living life on the edge.

Having fallen down in their first-round series to the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1, they reeled off three straight wins — including two in the Steel City — to advance to the second round against Washington.

In the late stages of Game 2 in the nation’s capital, the Lightning gave up a goal with just 68 seconds left in regulation to force overtime. Despite the potentially large shift in momentum, Tampa Bay was able to take both games at Verizon Center and open up a 2-0 series lead against the Capitals with a goal by captain Vincent Lecavalier 6:19 into the extra session, showing some of the resiliency that they showed in their first-round series.

“It’s been our team all year. I don’t know what it is,” Lightning star Steven Stamkos said as a remix of the Bee Gee’s “Stayin’ Alive” played in the visitor’s dressing room. “We never give up no matter the circumstance, and trust me, it took a while to figure it out. We seem to have a good thing going right now.

“Whether we get scored on, we score a big goal, we’re able to reload and have a big first shift after the goal … Our big guys stepped it up. Marty [St. Louis] and Vinny played great, and Teddy [Purcell] made some great plays to set up the goal. It seems like we’re having someone step up every game and that’s why we’re having success.”

“All year we’ve been very resilient,” Martin St. Louis said. “It’s something that I know we are. We have to prove it every day.”

It certainly didn’t look like Tampa Bay would return home with the 2-0 lead at the end of 60 minutes of play, as Alexander Ovechkin scored with 1:08 left in the third to square the game at 2-2 and send the sellout crowd into a frenzy. But, instead of a shift with a win in the Washington column, the Lightning regrouped in the intermission and took the game thanks to a goal by Vincent Lecavalier 6:19 into the extra session.

“You get down a little bit, but you have to have a quick memory,” Stamkos said. “You realize that they tied it up, but at the same time, if you told would of told us us before game we’d get Game 1 and get a chance be tied and take Game 2 in Washington into overtime, we’d take it. We gave ourselves a chance and took advantage.”

“It’s tough mentally, giving up that goal late, but we reloaded between the overtime and the third period,” St. Louis said. “I like the way we played in the third, we got a lot of scoring chances, and couldn’t put them away … They pulled their goalie and you know they were going to create some chances. They scored, but we saw opportunities in the overtime and took advantage of it.”

Even though they return home with a 2-0 lead, St. Louis is aware that despite the Lightning being two wins from the Conference Finals for the first time since winning the Stanley Cup in 2004, nothing has been decided.

“We haven’t done anything yet,” he said. “Montreal won the first two [in the first round], but Boston came back.”



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