- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 4, 2003

The Washington Capitals team which took a 2-0 advantage in Tampa when the playoffs opened is not the same team that is now tied 2-2 with the Tampa Bay Lightning. And the same could be said about the Lightning.If Tampa Bay was a young, very inexperienced team when the playoffs started, it grew up in a hurry. The ease with which Washington motored around the ice at the St. Pete Times Forum has disappeared. At least it did when the Caps got to their home ice.”I don’t know if mental errors is the right word,” coach Bruce Cassidy said last night after his team committed enough mistakes to make it easy for the Lightning to fly home with a series deadlock, something that appeared to be unlikely as recently as Monday.”We lacked execution in the back end tonight for sure,” he said. “Their forecheck pressure created some problems for us and we didn’t meet it very well. We said all year that when we move the puck out of our zone quickly to our forwards, we can be dangerous because we got some guys who can really go on the attack. Tonight we didn’t do that.”Mental errors? A face-off goal two nights in a row? We probably haven’t seen that happen all year. It’s something that hasn’t happened to us and all of a sudden it’s creeping into our game.”In short, the Lightning are getting plays from their personnel that the Caps aren’t getting from theirs. Players who weren’t on the horizon last week in Florida have suddenly started to dominate the series.Dave Andreychuk is an example. He is 39, the Tampa Bay captain, he’s been in the NHL since 1982, he’s played for six teams and suddenly he is standing out on something other than the power play, where he has been a force for 20 years. Last night he was instrumental in setting up a shorthanded goal that turned out to be the game-winner.”Even before the goal,” said Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella, “the shift before that, he blocks two shots, takes a step back into the trainer’s room, then comes back out and [sets up] a shorthanded goal. He’s a warrior. … It’s a huge goal, a huge goal, flying down the right side after he picked it off [from Kip Miller]. But David, that’s what the younger players on our club learn from him, situations like that. He’s been our warrior all year long.”From the other podium, Cassidy was trying to make sense out of what was happening.”We still had 22 minutes of hockey left,” he said of the shorthanded goal scored against his team. “[Tuesday] night we came back a lot of times. At the start of the third period, that goal [Lecavaliers] was a tough one to swallow. I think it really hurt some guys on our bench. I don’t know if we recovered from that. … Mistakes are going to happen in a game — yeah, the shortie was a bad one to give up but the guy fell down and sometimes in the course of a game those things happen.”Roster movesThe Capitals are recalling five players from their farm team in Portland, while three other Portland Pirates have been selected by their respective countries to play in the IIHF World Championships in Finland.Recalled are goalie Maxime Ouellet, defensemen Nolan Yonkman and Jakub Cutta and forwards Mike Farrell and Colin Forbes. Ouellet stands little chance of playing but the others may see some action if the Caps go deep enough or if there are injury problems. When the five from Portland arrive, the Caps will have 32 players on the roster.Twins Chris and Peter Ferraro will represent the United States in the World Championships while Rastislav Stana will be in goal for Slovakia.Portland was eliminated in the first round of the American Hockey League playoffs.Slap shotsTickets for Game 6 go on sale at 10 a.m. today at the usual outlets, if a Game 6 is necessary. A depressingly small turnout of 15,576 was on hand for last night’s loss. … The Caps’ lineup has not changed one bit for the first four games, making the cast of healthy scratches the same: defensemen Rick Berry, Josef Boumedienne and J.F. Fortin, and forwards Josh Green, Ivan Ciernik, Alex Henry and Stephen Peat. There will be five more to add to that list in Tampa when callups from Portland join the team. … Before last night’s games visiting teams had won 14 of the 26 games played. So much for home ice advantage. Also, the lower seed was ahead of four of seven series (one was tied). And the score of Game 2 of the Washington-Tampa Bay series, 6-3 Caps, was the highest scoring of the current playoff season.

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