The Washington Capitals knew coming into Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals that they needed a win to have any chance of making a comeback from a 2-0 series deficit. For a while, it looked like the Caps figured things out, scoring their first power play goal of the series and holding a lead in the third period for the first time. Yet, Tampa Bay found lightning in a bottle and took command of the series.
Steven Stamkos and Ryan Malone scored 24 seconds apart in the third period and the Lightning held on for a 4-3 win to put the Caps in a 3-0 hole.
Mike Knuble, John Carlson and Alex Ovechkin scored in the second period and the Caps entered the final period with a 3-2 lead. Yet, after dominating the middle frame, the Lightning struck back in the third. First, Stamkos broke free into the slot and fired a snap shot past Michal Neuvirth (26 saves) at 5:23. At 5:47, Ryan Malone cut to the net and got enough on Nate Thompson's centering pass to sneak the puck past Neuvirth to give the Lightning the lead for good.
With a 3-0 deficit to overcome, the Caps can look around the NHL for inspiration. Last season, the Philadelphia Flyers overcame a 3-0 deficit to defeat the Boston Bruins. This season, the Chicago Blackhawks erased a 3-0 hole against the Vancouver Canucks before losing in seven games. Either way, the Caps, who are 2-2 all-time in Game 4's when trialing 3-0 in a series, must win tomorrow or their season is over.