By most accounts the Capitals played a much better all around game Sunday night than they did in the series opener against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but not even that slowed their foes from taking advantage of one critical error. A bad line change by the Capitals, just over six minutes into overtime, led directly to the game-winning goal by Vincent Lecavalier, a tally that clinched a 3-2 win for the Lightning, which are now up two games to none.
Video of the play and goal is below, granted it doesn’t have the best angles to see precisely what happened on the line change but how things developed are still visible.
The puck had been dumped into the corner of the Tampa Bay zone. Lightning defenseman Randy Jones, who hadn’t played since Mar. 7 when he suffered a high-ankle sprain, went to retrieve it and on the way turned and looked at what was developing behind him.
The Capitals were in the midst of a full line and defensive change, in a period where the bench was on the far side of the defensive zone. John Carlson was wrapping up a shift 1:26 long and would be replaced by Mike Green. Scott Hannan was on the right side – also the far side -- the ice with Carlson, whose usual partner Karl Alzner had broken a stick about a half minute earlier and headed to the bench as well.
On the replay, when Jones looks behind him he can see a Capital motioning to the bench that he’s coming off. That is where Hannan would have been at the time. When he gets to the puck, Jones makes sure to send a long lead pass as far down the boards as he can where that hole developed on the right side.
“It was a bad change,” Hannan said. “I thought the puck was going in behind. When you make mistakes, it costs in the playoffs. I was a little tired and thought I could get off in time, but obviously, I couldn’t. It was a bad play.”
Teddy Purcell picked up the pass and skated into the Washington zone on what had developed into a 2-on-1 with Lecavalier and Green the lone defenseman back. When Green went to pressure Purcell, he made a pass to Lecavalier who made the shot high on Michal Neuvirth’s glove side.
“It was a bad change,” Coach Bruce Boudreau said, who was asked if it was because players changed that shouldn’t have. The guys “that were coming on didn’t come on nearly as quick as they should have but it was a combination.”
Jeff Schultz came on to take Hannan’s place but neither he, nor Nicklas Backstrom and Brooks Laich who hit the ice after Marco Sturm and Boyd Gordon came off, were able to get to the play in time.
“It was a miscommunication on a line change,” Schultz said. “I think they made a line change and kind of snuck a guy behind us and we just weren’t aware of that guy and they had a 2 on 1. I wasn’t sure who came to the bench. I just tried to jump on as soon as possible and get back but it wasn’t fast enough.”