Tampa Bay Lightning: 50 Greatest Moments In Franchise History

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Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

33. Lightning Sweeps the Washington Capitals in Post Season

Date: May 4, 2011

As the 2010-11 season quickly approached, the Tampa Bay Lightning was entering the first year of their rebuilding phase. Keeping this into consideration, Tampa Bay Lightning fans came into this season with mild expectations. Little did they know, the Tampa Bay Lightning had something much bigger in store for them.

The 2010-11 season turned out to be one of the most successful seasons for the Tampa Bay Lightning since they won the Stanley Cup in the 2003-04 season. When the buzzer sounded for the final time during the regular season, the Tampa Bay Lightning had gone 46-22-8-6.

After the first round of the playoffs was set in stone, the Lightning’s detractors almost immediately came out and began saying the Tampa Bay Lightning would never make it through the first round. The Tampa Bay Lightning was preparing to take on Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Unfortunately for the Penguins, when the Lightning came to town, they would not only be without Crosby, but they would be without Evgeni Malkin as well.

The Pittsburgh Penguins would push the Tampa Bay Lightning to a Game Seven in the opening series, Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Dwayne Roloson would help backstop the Lightning to a 1-0 shutout and a one-way ticket to the next round of the post season. The Tampa Bay Lightning would now be tasked with taking on the Russian sensation Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals.

Once again, the Lightning’s detractors seemed to make their way out of the woodwork and doubt the Lightning’s chances of moving on. How could a team like the Tampa Bay Lightning take on a scoring powerhouse like Ovechkin and make it through to the next round? Well, the Tampa Bay Lightning had an answer for this very question.

The first game in the series would play out at the Verizon Center in the Nation’s Capital. The Tampa Bay Lightning would set the pace early in the game. Just 2:12 into the First Period, Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Sean Bergenheim would make his way past Capitals goaltender Michal Neuvirth and strike first blood for the Bolts. After a 60 minute battle, the Lightning would defeat the Capitals 4-2 in the opening game of the series.

The Capitals would head back into the Verizon Center for Game Two determined to make some ground on the Lightning. While the Caps were able to force the Lightning into an overtime period, a goal from Tampa Bay Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier would push the Lightning over the top to a Game 2 victory.

Next, the Bolts and the Caps would be headed back to the Sunshine State for the next two games of the series. The first of these two games took place on May 3, 2011 at the then-St. Pete Times Forum. It would take a little time for the Tampa Bay Lightning to rev their engines in Game Three, but at the end of the day it would once again be the Tampa Bay Lightning who drew first blood and set the pace in the game.

Over the course of the next two periods, the Capitals were able to mount some offense of their own with three mostly-unanswered goals. Despite the offensive pressure from the Capitals in the second period, the Tampa Bay Lightning would push back, and hard, in the Third Period. It would be future Lightning captain Steven Stamkos who would tie the game up for the Bolts, but it was a goal from Lightning left wing Ryan Malone that would secure a Game Three victory for the Bolts.

The moment of truth would finally come for the Washington Capitals on May 4, 2011, just one day after dropping Game Three to the Tampa Bay Lightning at the St. Pete Times Forum. This time, it would be Ryan Malone who would open the door for the Tampa Bay Lightning and allow them to set the pace just past the halfway point in the First Period.

Before the buzzer would sound to end the First Period of play between these two team, the Capitals would answer with a goal from left wing Marco Sturm on the Power Play. The Bolts knew this was never going to be allowed to stand if they were going to bring home the victory and complete a sweep of the Capitals in front of their hometown crowd.

When the Lightning would take the ice for the Second Period, they were ready to get down to business. It would be post season standout Sean Bergenheim who would bring home not one, but two goals for the Bolts in the first 12:34 seconds of the Second Period.

The Washington Capitals would do everything within their power to battle back and push this series back to Washington, but it was simply not meant to be. The Tampa Bay Lightning would defeat the Washington Capitals 5-3 and complete the sweep of the Capitals and make their way to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Unfortunately, after battling the Boston Bruins in a Seven Game series, the Tampa Bay Lightning would fall just one game short of becoming the Eastern Conference Champions and playing for the Stanley Cup. While the season may not have ended in the fashion the Tampa Bay Lightning would have ultimately hoped for, there were so many positives that came out of their post season run.

This season served as the platform in which the Tampa Bay Lightning would use to elevate their game to the next level and prepare themselves for the opportunities they would find themselves open to in the future. As someone who was there for all the action in the 2010-11 post season, despite not going all the way, we wouldn’t have traded the experience for anything in the world…except maybe the Stanley Cup.

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