When Alex Ovechkin scored the dramatic game-tying goal with just over a minute left in regulation, many thought it was the beginning of a storybook ending Sunday night for the Capitals.
But that fairy tale ending turned into a nightmare.
A bad line change in overtime led to Vinny Lecavalier's game-winner, which gave the Lightning not only a 3-2 win in Game 2, but a 2-0 lead in the series, which now moves down to Tampa Bay for Games 3 and 4.
Ovechkin's goal after some pretty passing by Alex Semin, Brooks Laich and Jason Arnott gave the Caps the momentum heading into overtime, and the team came out in the extra session flying.
The stars, it seemed, were aligned for an OT victory for Washington.
"It seemed like it was lining up like that," Mike Knuble said. "You could see the story being written there."
But it didn't happen.
Instead, a mistake in OT cost the Caps the game. The Caps' defense got caught in the middle of a line change, allowing a long outlet pass by Randy Jones to Teddy Purcell, who in turn fed Lecavalier in front of the net. One move and Lecavalier roofed it over Michal Neuvirth for the win.
Defenseman Scott Hannan owned up to the error after the game.
"I was a little tired. I thought I could get off in time. I couldn't. It was a bad play," Hannan said.
"I'll take the blame for that," he added. "I should have stayed on the ice and it would have been a dead play -- probably a 2-on-2."
Coach Bruce Boudreau said it wasn't entirely Hannan's fault.
"It was a bad change," he said. "And at the same time the guys who were coming on weren't anywhere near as quick as they should have."
One bad play wasn't the deal-breaker for the Caps. There was also the issue of the struggling power play, which failed to score in six chances Sunday and is now 0 for 11 in the series.
"The power play is what's killing us," Knuble said. "It's hurting us big time."
The Bolts were able to convert on one of their power-play chances in the game. With Ovechkin in the box for high sticking late in the first period, Lecavalier drilled a shot past Neuvirth glove side from the right circle to give Tampa a 1-0 lead.
Laich evened things at 1 in the second period by knocking a rebound past Dwayne Roloson from the slot.
But once again, the third period was a struggle for the Caps. Martin St. Louis used a fortunate bounce off of Mike Green's skate to give the Bolts a 2-1 lead seven minutes into the third. After that, the Lightning continued to frustrate the Caps with their 1-3-1 defensive scheme. Washington managed just five shots on goal in the third.
"They came in here and did the job," Boudreau said. "They got the lead and we only got two or three shots on goal in the third until we scored. We've got to push harder."