- The Washington Times - Monday, May 2, 2011

Adversity has marked this season for the Washington Capitals, from an eight-game skid in December through a system change that eventually paved the way for winning hockey.

Down 2-0 to the Tampa Bay Lightning, its now time to draw on that experience going into Game 3 on Tuesday night in Tampa, Fla.

“Well, they have to win four. And we have been in tough situations this year, and we’ve bounced back,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “And we’re going in there to win Tuesday night. I think the games have been so close that, I mean, it’s one move here, one move there. And it’s not like we’re going to go in there and throw in the towel. We’re ready to play.”

Sunday night’s 3-2 overtime loss in Game 2 crushed Washington, which dominated for long stretches of 5-on-5 play and tied the score on left wing Alex Ovechkin’s goal with 1:08 left in the third period. But given how close all these playoff games have been, just being able to prove they’re not out of a game can perhaps be used to show they’re not done in this series.

“I think we showed that we have that fire and that emotion coming back at the end of the game,” defenseman John Carlson said. “And that’s what it felt like on the bench at that time is you know that it’s possible; you know were in these games.”

A couple of bad bounces wound up on the highlight reels for both defeats to Tampa Bay at Verizon Center, but the Caps know they have a more systemic problem: the power play. Theyre 0-for-11 this series and 3-for-27 in the playoffs with the man advantage.

But it’s not like Boudreau and his players can make a drastic change there. They’ve just about tried everything.

“It’s really frustrating,” Boudreau said. “We’re not just sitting there as a group of coaches and saying, ‘Oh, OK. It’s not working.’ We’re going over these things with a fine-toothed comb. We’re trying to make adjustments as we go. But it’s those guys that have to do it. We all want it to happen, but it’s not going our way. We’re trying to make changes when we see things that aren’t working.”

Production hasn’t been there on the power play from anybody in these two games. Asked whether he needed more from superstar Ovechkin, Boudreau said, “We need more from everybody.”

The other side of this series being so close is that the Caps believe a few small changes and some good bounces could turn everything around. They’re dusting off the cliches about their backs being against a wall and taking it one game at a time - despite back-to-back games Tuesday and Wednesday - but players are determined not to let this be the final challenge this season.

“I don’t think this series is over,” forward Brooks Laich said. “I think it’s just beginning.”



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