Tampa Bay Lightning: 10 Best Performances In Franchise History

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Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

4. Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Washington Capitals

Lightning Sweep Capitals in Eastern Conference Semifinals

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Tampa Bay Lightning found themselves in an interesting position heading into the Semifinal Round of the 2011 Eastern Conference Championship series. After going 46-25-11 in the regular season, the Lightning advanced to the first round of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs where they would go head-to-head with Kris Letang and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Despite being without their captain Sidney Crosby or center Evgeni Malkin for the whole of the series, the Pittsburgh Penguins would still make the Tampa Bay Lightning work for everything they had and was able to stretch the series out to a Game 7. Thanks to a lone goal from former Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Sean Bergenheim, the Lightning would edge out a victory and continue on to the next round.

Many people, including Tampa Bay Lightning fans, believed the Bolts would be in for much of the same as they continued on to face captain Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals. Unfortunately for the Capitals, the Tampa Bay Lightning had something much different in store for them.

The Tampa Bay Lightning had already taken the first three games of the series. Excluding the first game in this series, each of those previous games had been decided by one single goal. The Tampa Bay Lightning knew if they were going to be successful in this forth, and what would eventually be final, game in the series they were going to have to bring their “A” game.

The first period started out kind of slow, but just after the halfway point in the period Lightning would finally strike. The Lightning would find themselves on the Power Play as Ovechkin would be sent to the box for Charging against Lightning right wing Adam Hall. It would be former Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Ryan Malone who would ultimately capitalize on the Power Play by redirecting a shot from Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier to give the Bolts the early lead.

Unfortunately, the Tampa Bay Lightning would not be heading into the first intermission with the lead. With just a minute and a half left on the clock in the first period, the Capitals would capitalize (no pun intended) on a Power Play of their own with a goal from Capitals left wing Marco Sturm.

When these two teams hit the ice for the second period, it was the Tampa Bay Lightning who set the pace. Just under five minutes into the period, it would be Lightning left wing Sean Bergenheim who would score his first goal of the evening, making his way past Capitals netminder Michal Neuvirth with assists from Dominic Moore and Steve Downie.

It would be just over halfway through the period when the Lightning would strike again. Low and behold, it would be another goal from Sean Bergenheim. Once again, he would have the assist from former Tampa Bay Lightning center Dominic Moore.

Unfortunately, just over a minute later the Capitals would respond with a goal of their own. Capitals defenseman John Erskine would shoot the puck he picked up from the boards and send it sailing past Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Dwayne Roloson to lessen the Lightning’s lead by one heading into the second intermission.

The Lightning would reassert their dominance over the Capitals in the early moments of the first period. Just over four minutes into the final twenty minutes of play, the Bolts would find themselves with the man advantage as Marco Sturm was sent to the penalty box for Goaltender Interference. Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron would capitalize on the opportunity with the assistance of Steve Downie and Teddy Purcell.

As the final minutes of the period approached, the Lightning decided they weren’t done punishing the Capitals just yet. There was one last thing that needed to be done before the final buzzer would sound to end the game.

Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Teddy Purcell would relieve Capitals defenseman John Carlson of the puck in the neutral zone. Purcell would see Martin St. Louis rushing up the ice towards the Capitals net. Purcell hands the puck off to St. Louis who centers, takes his shot, and essentially seals the deal for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Washington Capitals would attempt to battle back with a late goal from Carlson, but it would be a case of too little, too late. The final buzzer would sound and the Tampa Bay Lightning would complete a series sweep of the Washington Capitals right here in Tampa Bay in front of the hometown fans.

As someone who was watching the game out on the plaza on that fine evening, we can remember the rush of adrenaline as fans began piling out of the then-St. Pete Times Forum to join the celebration. As usual, there were people who believed that such a thing simply couldn’t be done, but once again the Tampa Bay Lightning proved them all wrong.

Next: Tampa Bay Lightning Battle the Broad Street Bullies for the Eastern Conference Championship