2011 NHL Playoffs, Capitals Vs. Lightning Game 4: Washington Swept Out Of Playoffs

After an up-and-down season, the Capitals ended their 2010-11 campaign on the sourest of notes, losing 5-3 to the Lightning in Game 4 and being swept out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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Washington Capitals' 2011 NHL Playoffs Loss Proves There's A Mental Hurdle To Overcome

Remember when Lightning coach Guy Boucher said it would be a "failure" if the Capitals couldn't win the series? The fact that he even thought to play mind games explains why the Capitals keep having playoff disappointment.

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NHL Playoffs 2011, Capitals Vs. Lightning, Game 4: Caps Swept Out Of Playoffs In 5-3 Loss

To say that the 2010-11 season for the Washington Capitals was tumultuous is an understatement. The Caps went through the best of times and the worst of times, but when it counted, the Tampa Bay Lightning ended their season in a flash.

Paced by Sean Bergenheim's two goals in the second period, the Lightning defeated the Capitals 5-3 in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference Semifinals series and swept them out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Caps found themselves down early when Ryan Malone knocked the puck past Michal Neuvirth with his skate, but Marco Sturm tied the game at 1-1 with a power play goal late in the first period. In the second, Bergenheim struck twice in a span of about eight minutes to give the Lightning the lead for good. John Erskine scored just over a minute after Bergenheim's second tally to cut the lead to 3-2, but that was as close as the Caps got.

Marc-Andre Bergeron's snipe from the point on the power play gave Tampa Bay a 4-2 lead. Martin St. Louis iced the game late in the third period when he used John Carlson as a screen and ripped a wrist shot past Neuvirth. Carlson atoned for his sin by cutting the lead to 5-3 a minute later with Neuvirth pulled. The Caps had a 6-on-4 opportunity with Steven Stamkos in the penalty box for tripping, but did not convert, ending their season in disappointing fashion.

The sweep at the hands of the Lightning was the first against the Caps since the 1997-98 Stanley Cup Finals against the Detroit Red Wings. For the second straight season, the top-seeded Caps have nothing to show for their regular season success and have a long summer ahead of them.

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2011 NHL Playoffs, Capitals Vs. Lightning Game 4 Score: Sean Bergenheim's Pair Gives Lightning 3-2 Lead Over Caps After Second Period

Sean Bergenheim may start to haunt the Capitals' collective dreams.

Bergenheim scored twice in the second period and the Lightning have a 3-2 lead after two periods.

The first goal came at 4:41 when Bergenheim found himself with enough room in the slot after Michal Neuvirth gave up a big rebound to put it in the net. About eight minutes later, Bergenheim followed Dominic Moore's initial shot and put yet another rebound past Neuvirth at 12:34. The two goals were Bergeneim's third and fourth of the series and seventh in the playoffs.

With the Caps down 3-1, they needed some sort of offense and they got it from the unlikeliest of sources. John Erskine simply threw the puck on goal from a tight angle along the boards that somehow beat Dwayne Roloson at 13:40. It was Erskine's first career playoff goal.

Shots were 17-10 in favor of Tampa Bay and are 28-22 in favor of the Lightning for the game.

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NHL Playoffs 2011, Capitals Vs. Lightning Game 4 Score: Marco Sturm's Power Play Goal Brings Caps Back To 1-1 Tie With Lightning After 20 Minutes

The Tampa Bay Lightning struck first, but in a must-win game, the Washington Capitals struck back.

Marco Sturm's power play goal counteracted Ryan Malone's goal with the man advantage and the Caps and Lightning are tied at 1-1 after 20 minutes.

Mike Knuble committed Washington's first penalty of the game when he interfered with Dwayne Roloson at 8:59 and the Caps killed off the ensuing man advantage for Tampa Bay. But 15 seconds later, Alex Ovechkin received a charging penalty and the Caps returned to the penalty kill. This time, however, the Lightning struck in what seems to be normal fashion in this series. Vincent Lecavalier's centering pass to Malone deflected off of Malone's skate and past Michal Neuvirth for his third goal of the playoffs at 12:37. The referees reviewed the goal and it stood.

Tampa Bay took a cue from Washington and essentially mirrored what the Caps did earlier in the period. Mattias Ohlund committed a cross-checking penalty and the Lightning killed it off. Just seven seconds after the penalty expired, the Lightning took another penalty when Nate Thompson interfered with Neuvirth. On the ensuing power play, the Caps scored with the man advantage for the second straight game when Sturm found the puck in a congested crease and slid it past Roloson for his first goal of the playoffs at 18:30.

Shots are 12-11 in favor of Washington.

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2011 NHL Playoffs, Capitals Vs. Lightning Game 4: Starting Lineup

Via Sky Kerstein of 106.7 The Fan, below is tonight's starting lineup for the Washington Capitals as they prepare to face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference Semifinals series at St. Pete Times Forum. Down 3-0, a loss will end the Caps season. A win will extend the series to Game 5 Saturday at Verizon Center.

#Caps Line Up Tonight: 8-19-22, 18-44-28, 21-90-25, 26-15-10, 55-23, 27-74, 62-4, 30less than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply

 

The lines should be familiar to Caps fans, who saw this configuration throughout the end of the regular season. Missing from the lineup, however, is Mike Green, who missed almost all of the third period in Tuesday's 4-3 loss with what has been called a lower-body injury. Sean Collins will take his place on defense in a pairing with John Erskine.

Eric Fehr will be a healthy scratch and is replaced by Matt Hendricks, who has not played since Game 1.

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Mike Green Injury Leaves Capitals' Defensemen's Status In Doubt For Game 4 Vs. Lightning

The Washington Capitals fell behind in the third period of their 4-3 Game 3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday without one of their most recognizable players in the lineup. Defensemen Mike Green sat out for most of the final 18 minutes with what coach Bruce Boudreau called a "lower body injury," and his status for Wednesday's game is unclear.

Boudreau said he would not talk about injuries earlier Wednesday, but according to Kate Carrera of the Washington Post, Green certainly didn't look right.

Defenseman Mike Green, who suffered a lower-body injury last night, was walking with a severe limp and favoring his left leg on his way out of St. Pete Times Forum this morning. Based on how limited his movement was, it doesn't appear likely that the two-time Norris Trophy finalist will be in the lineup as Washington faces elimination.    

If Green cannot play, it will be the latest incident in a season that has been defined by injuries. He missed several games in the first half of the year, then missed nearly the entire second half of the season with a concussion after taking a slap shot to the face. 

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2011 NHL Playoffs, Capitals Vs. Lightning Game 4: Washington Looks To Avoid Elimination

The Washington Capitals will possibly play their final game in the 2010/11 season on Wednesday night when they take on the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 4 of their second-round 2011 NHL Playoffs series. The game begins at 7 p.m. on CSN and Versus, and it comes about 24 hours after the Capitals fell in a 3-0 series hole with a 4-3 loss in Game 3. 

The Capitals looked poised to win that game when a power-play goal by Alex Ovechkin put them ahead 3-2 at the end of the second period. Instead, the Capitals allowed two goals in 24 seconds in the third period, dropping their third straight (essentially, since Game 1 had an empty-netter) one-goal game in the series. That touched off a series of eulogies of the Capitals' season and the crossroads they face as a franchise. Coming back from 3-0 down has happened as recently as last season with the Philadelphia Flyers, but it's an extremely rare event.

No matter, though. The Capitals' only chance at a comeback happens if they win Game 4. Win Game 4, and then there's another game to focus on. Lose, and the season will have ended in embarrassing fashion.

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