Caps on Life Support After Game 3 Loss

May the Fourth be with you, Caps fans.

Wednesday, May 4, is known to nerds and nerfherders across the galaxy as Star Wars Day. Closer to home, it is known as Game 4 of the Capitals-Lightning series.

And it may take more than the Force to help the Caps stave off elimination following a 4-3 loss in Game 3 Tuesday night in Florida.

Once again, it was a dominating third period by the Bolts that sealed the deal.

The Caps entered the third with a 3-2 lead thanks to a rare power-play goal, but managed to fall apart. The dagger (or lightsaber, if we're sticking with the Star Wars theme) -- two Lightning goals in a span of 24 seconds just over five minutes into the final period.

The first was deposited past Michal Neuvirth by Steven Stamkos to tie it at 3, and then Ryan Malone added the other by crashing the net -- something Caps fans have been pleading their team to do all series.

In this case, Malone didn't even have to shoot the puck. Instead, a centering pass by Nate Thompson deflected off of Malone's skate as he stopped just outside the crease.

With a lead in hand, the Bolts did just what they were coached to do -- fall back into their 1-3-1 defense and frustrate the Caps the rest of the way.

And yet again, Washington had trouble even getting the puck into the Tampa zone.

"When we get a puck deep, only one guy chases," Ovechkin said. "We try to play too safe."

The Caps, supposedly desperate for a win in an effort to not fall behind 3-0 in the series, managed just five shots on goal in the third period. Heck, with eight minutes left they were being outshot 12-1 in the period.

And if it weren't for some outstanding saves by Neuvirth at the other end, they wouldn't have even had a chance to tie the game in its final seconds.

"I thought a couple of the goals he should have had," coach Bruce Boudreau said after the game. "But at the same time, when they got the lead he kept us in the game. As a group we lost our composure and had some giveaways. He kept us in the game."

But Neuvy's heroics couldn't even help give the Caps momentum. The last-second scrambling around Dwayne Roloson didn't result in a goal, and the Caps now find themselves trying to do what some consider to be the impossible -- winning a series after falling behind 3-0.

Granted, it's not impossible. The Flyers proved that last year by coming back from a 3-0 series deficit -- and a 3-0 deficit in Game 7 -- to beat the Bruins. Only two other teams have accomplished in league history.

Help us Ovi-Wan, you're our only hope!

OK, OK, breathe Caps fans. Deep breaths...

What can make you feel better...

Oh! One positive for the Caps in Game 3 -- the power play finally connected late in the second period. Alex Ovechkin took advantage of some hard work by Mike Knuble in the crease to pick up a loose puck and fire it by Roloson, who was on his knees and without his stick.

The power-play tally not only snapped an 0-for-14 drought with the man advantage, but more importantly gave the Caps a 3-2 lead heading into the third period.

As mentioned above, that lead didn't last. And now Boudreau must find a way to motivate his players and figure out how to beat a Guy Boucher's defensive choke hold that is tighter than Darth Vader's grip on an admiral's neck.

Ovechkin, for one, isn't ready to surrender.

"It's not over," he said after the game. "They won three, and we can win three."

Four, however, is another story.

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