After the second consecutive unexpectedly quick exodus from the postseason, there was quiet in the Capitals dressing room. The players brought back in the room to talk to reporters spoke quietly as the reality that their season was over sunk in following Tampa Bay’s 5-3 victory in Game 4.

“It just [stinks] to finish this way because we were good enough to do special things,” John Carlson said. “They played outstanding all series, they got a few bounces and kind of broke our backs in some scenarios, but overall we collapsed in some spots and had mistakes.”

Said Mike Knuble: “It’s very frustrating. I don’t think any of us saw this coming down the way it did. It was the last thing that was in our mind, but you have to give them credit.”

The Capitals came out with a strong start but couldn’t score the first goal, as they were unable to do all series, and never gained a lead in Game 4. Like every other game in this series, Washington wound up forced to play catchup against a Lightning squad very comfortable with the lead.

“It just seemed like they had an answer for everything we threw at them tonight,” Karl Alzner said. “That’s the tough part, to not get rewarded for anything that we threw at them.”

That seemed to be the case over the last six days, Tampa Bay was always able to counter Washington’s best surges with something stronger or more timely. In Game 4 it was Sean Bergenheim, who stepped up with a pair of goals that included the game-winner, pushing his total of tallies in the series to four. No Capital scored more than two goals in these four games against the Lightning.

“They just beat us in four straight so I think they were [better],” Coach Bruce Boudreau said. “It wasn’t by a big margin, but we’re still done in four games, so I’d have to say they were better.”

Check out the rest of our coverage from Game 4 as the Lightning swept the series from my game story to Tarik El-Bashir’s column and Tracee Hamilton’s front-page take on the Capitals’ early exit. We’ll have more tomorrow, so check back.