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Shocker: Tampa Bay sweeps top seeded Washington out of playoffs with 5-3 win

May 4, 2011, 11:26 PM EDT

Sean Bergenheim Getty Images

Just as hopeful as it seemed for the Washington Capitals getting out of Round 1, their fate in Round 2 is equally as quick and stunning as the Tampa Bay Lightning swept the top seed in the Eastern Conference out of the playoffs with a 5-3 win at home.

Once again it would be Sean Bergenheim and Dwayne Roloson standing out as the heroes for Tampa Bay as Bergenheim scored two goals while Roloson stopped 33 Capitals shots in Game 4 to secure the victory.

Bergenheim’s two goals came in the second period to give the Lighting a 3-1 lead and while John Erskine would score for Washington to cut the lead to 3-2 heading into the third. In the third though, Marc-Andre Bergeron and Martin St. Louis would score to make it 5-2 and ice the game. A late John Carlson goal would make it 5-3 but it was all over.

Tampa Bay’s sweep of Washington is stunning because they didn’t just win, they won both convincingly and heart-breakingly for Capitals fans. Close games or blowouts like tonight, Tampa just found ways to get it done. Whether it was high skill or big breaks everything went the way of the Lightning.

It wasn’t just all that that made them quick winners over the Caps, it was a frustrating and stifling defensive plan that found ways to to make everyone except Alex Ovechkin and Mike Knuble wither under the stress. Whether it was poor planning on the part of the Caps, poor countering, or just flat out poor play it’s a fourth straight disappointing end to the season for the Caps.

Getting swept out of this round by a team they ultimately should have beaten will leave lots of questions going into the offseason and most of them will center around Bruce Boudreau and whether or not he should continue to be the head coach. GM George McPhee will also have to answer a lot of questions about his own roster as well as there were a lot of players out on the ice in this series that looked like they’d rather be anywhere but there.

Tampa Bay’s incredible run continues on. After being pushed to the brink against Pittsburgh being down 3-1 at one point in that series, the Lightning have now won seven straight in the playoffs and now they’ll await the winner of the Boston-Philadelphia series to see who they’ll face in the Eastern Conference final. The Lightning are tough, they’re getting offense from three lines, and Dwayne Roloson is playing awfully tough. Whoever faces them in the next round is going to have their hands full.

  1. goforthanddie - May 4, 2011 at 11:49 PM

    Two straight seasons, enter the playoffs #1, leave early. Doesn’t really sound like a roster problem…

    • stakex - May 5, 2011 at 2:46 AM

      But really, it is.

      I know, I know… the coach needs to take a lot of blame. The argument could be made that the players are not responding to him. Still though, you cannot have two of your top three players taking the series off. Semin and Backstrom both looked weak on the puck, and lacked any sort of fight for most of the series. When they are getting paid what they are, you can’t have that. If I was Washington I would think about trading Semin in the off season. Before the Rangers series he had gone 14 playoff games without a goal and yet again vanished for a series his team lost. Sounds to me like someone lacks the drive to win in the big games.

      Lets also not forget that Washington, while winning the East, had some major problems this season at times. They have a talented roster that is capable of playing great…. but that same roster has a tendency to disappear for a while at times. The only consistent player they have is Ovechkin, and he can’t win a series alone… as we have seen the last three years. It might be time for a coaching change in Washington, but I think a roster shakeup is needed as well. Seems like too many fat cats think they are safe, winning or losing…. and thats not the key to success.

  2. tommytd - May 5, 2011 at 1:04 AM

    Might be time to take a look at the guys running the show. This team is lacking.

  3. cavredleg15 - May 5, 2011 at 1:19 AM

    “Doesn’t really sound like a roster problem”
    “Might be time to take a look at the guys running the show. This team is lacking.”

    What would be the corrective action there guys?
    Seems to me the players are the ones out there on the Ice. They were the best team in the East at the end of the regular season. What changed in the playoffs?

    I don’t know the Caps like others do. Just love seeing Ovechtrick take his ass home.

  4. wheresdapuck - May 5, 2011 at 6:46 AM

    As a Caps fan, the Lightning played their game and won – they were the better team! You cannot win when you:

    – dump and chase
    – cannot clear the puck in the defense zone
    – have horrible break-outs and missed passes
    – do not look for short-handed goals on PPK
    – look for the best shot on a PP instead of just shooting it
    – not having a man in front of the net on every offensive possession
    – watching the Lightning blow past you on puck chases
    – not putting the squeeze on the Lightning offensive break-outs

    I blame some on the players and expect to see some new blue liners for the next season. But the Coach needed to change the entire game plan when it failed in Games 1 & 2. Tampa Bay has a skilled set of shooters while NYR did not.

    • kusheadpotman - May 5, 2011 at 1:31 PM

      As a Lightning fan, I have to agree with you.

      I know you guys are pretty down on your team from all the comments, AND all the headlines (What Went Wrong: Capitols). But honestly at the end of the day, TB was a better team that wanted it more, and their play showed. I expected a much tougher battle than what we got.

  5. zip1212 - May 5, 2011 at 8:28 AM

    what could be more obvious then a sell out like Ovechkin taking money to break the beard tradition ??? ha ha HA cursed yourself and your team good job… now we have the last laugh thank you.

  6. tbtb - May 5, 2011 at 12:47 PM

    Congratulations to the Tampa Bay Lightning, who SWEPT the Washington Capitals to win the NHL Eastern Conference semifinals at the St. Petersburg Times Forum last night. Great to to it AT HOME! After a couple of days resting, it will be time to battle the (likely) Philldelphia Flyers in the Conference finals on the way to the Stanley Cup (I got my tickets already from !

  7. stixzidinia - May 5, 2011 at 11:12 PM

    It’s not shocking. It’s all the Caps ever do is choke in the post-season. Hell, the Rangers series was only the 2nd playoff series they’ve won since 1998. And the Rangers series was the first time they’ve ever needed less than 7 games to win a series. It’s just a terrible organization that has cultivated a culture of failure when it counts. It starts with Ted Leonsis and trickes all the way down to the ice.

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