The big mystery as we approach the start of Game 2 is whether or not Mike Knuble will return from a four-game layoff with a suspected right hand injury. When asked whether the veteran winger was expected to suit up, Coach Bruce Boudreau said Knuble will take warmup “as an inspiration.”
He wasn’t in the mood to discuss the matter further. Trust me on that one. So we’ll have to wait until warmups to find out. Ah, gamesmanship. It’s that time of year, I suppose.
Given the uncertainty, you’ll want to check back for a lineup a little before puck drop. Because, obviously, the forward lines could look a lot different.
Updates will follow after the jump in reverse-chronological order.
--Update, 6:19 overtime: A sloppy line change by Caps and a long stretch pass by R. Jones to Purcell leads to a 2-on-1.
Lecavalier left wide open. Vinny doesn’t miss from right there.
Bolts take a 2-0 series lead.
--Update, 2:41 overtime: Caps controlling play early in OT. They’re leading in shots 5-1.
Ovechkin nearly finds Johansson for a tip in.
Lightning on its heels.
--Update, end of regulation: You want bread, go to the bakery ...You want goals, go where Ovechkin just did. To the top of the crease, that is.
Ovechkin’s shot was his team-leading fifth of the night. Only St. Louis has more with seven.
As huge as Ovechkin’s goal was for the Caps, they’ve still got a problem. Prior to his tally, they had been out-shot 11-4 in the third period as Lightning stifled them in the neutral zone. If you recall, Washington registered only five shots in the third period of Game 1.
The Caps have got find their way around Boucher’s 1-3-1, especially in crunch time.
But thanks to Ovechkin, now it’s anyone’s game.
--Update, 18:53 third period: Ovechkin bails out the Caps, ties up the game 2-2 with a chip in traffic at top of crease. Neuvy was out of the net, by the way.
Verizon Center goes nuts.
--Update, 17:16 third period: Boucher’s 1-3-1 looks truly genuis when it works. Caps struggling to break through.
--Update, 16:30 third period: Lightning dropping four back into neutral zone. No one clogs up the middle like the Bolts with a lead.
--Update, 9:02 third period: Fan, upset at offsides call, throws aluminum beer bottle onto ice.
--Update, 8:37 third period: Green off for blind elbow to Stamkos’s face. Kinda hard to come back when you’re down a man.
--Update, 7:35 third period: St. Louis banks short angle pass off of Green’s skate in front. St. Louis was aiming for Lecavalier at the other side of the net.
Lucky break for Bolts, who now lead 2-1.
--Update, 4:00 third period: Lightning take first three shots of the final frame.
--Update, end of second period: The ice has been tilted in the Caps’ favor for most of the night. Just look at the shot disparity (they’re leading 27-9).
Yet the score is 1-1 after 40 minutes. Two reasons for that: The power play has gone 0 for 6 (for a total of 11 minutes 32) and Roloson has made a handful of tricky/timely stops, the most recent on a rebound attempt by Laich late in the period. The veteran goalie looked vulnerable early in Game 1, but has been gaining confidence ever since.
Ovechkin, meantime, is still looking for his first point of the series. He has three shots on net through two periods, but has also had three blocked.
Backstrom, on the other hand, registered a point, getting the primary assist on Laich’s tally. It’s Backstrom’s second point in seven playoff games.
Hey, it’s a start.
--Update, 18:37 second period: After Brooks Laich’s rebound attempt, Caps now lead 26-9 in shots.
--Update, 16:30 second period: Laich now gets the goal. Semin never touched it. Still got punched by Roloson, though.
--Update, 15:28 second period: Schultz off for hooking Bergenheim behind Caps’ net.
--Update, 14:52 second period: Semin ties the score 1-1 after Laich’s shot bounces up and over Roloson’s shoulder and lands in net. Semin must have gotten a peice of it as it rolled down.
Roloson also threw a punch at Semin as he celebrated near the goalpost.
Crowd is officially back into it.
--Update, 13:10 second period: Not sure I even need to type this. But the Caps are now 0-for-6 on the power play.
More concerning, though, is that Roloson is really sharp. He denied Knuble from point blank range late in the advantage.
--Update, 11:00 second period: Bergenheim off for hooking. Wow. This is getting nuts.
Also, Downie struck by puck moments earlier. Looks to be hurting a bit.
--Update, 8:00 second period: Caps’ penalty kill snuffed out that Lightning power play quite nicely. Almost had a shorthanded 2 on 1, but Stamkos deftly broke it up.
--Update, 6:02 second period: Green off for roughing after upending Thompson in O-zone corner. Weird.
Anyway, Caps are now 0-for-5 on the power play this series. They seemed to to dump the puck more than before on that advantage. Not sure I saw enough chasing to make the strategy work, though.
--Update, 4:17 second period: Bergeron off for hooking Gordon in slot. Probably saved a goal.
Lightning can’t keep this up.
--Update, 3:00 second period: Roloson makes another splendid save, this time on Backstrom, in tight on backhand.
Caps now 3 for 25 on the power play this postseason.
--Update, 1:33 second period: Malone off for high-sticking Green in front of Caps net.
--Update, :20 second period: Roloson is heating up. Just robbed Semin on a backhander from slot.
--Update, end of the first period: The Caps out-shot the Lightning 10-6 in the first period, and until the final few minutes, were in control. Yet the visitors lead 1-0.
You know why? Washington went 0 for 3 on the power play. The unit is now 0-for-8 in the series with the man advantage and 3-for-24 this postseason. That’s why.
The only silver lining -- and you’ve got to squint pretty hard to see this one -- is that the unit took five shots. They only mustered five on five power plays in Game 1. Like I said, it ain’t much of a positive.
The Lightning, meantime, got some timely saves from Roloson and converted one of their two power play chances.
--Update, 19:03 first period: Lecavalier blasts a one-timer off the goal camera on power play. Bolts up 1-0.
Caps couldn’t clear zone, thanks to a slick pass by Malone from behind net.
That’s the second power-play goal yielded by the Caps in the final minute of a period. As the saying goes, that’s the worst time to give one up.
--Update, 17:56 first period: Ovechkin off for high sticking Ohlund. Refs busy tonight
--Update, 17:56 first period: Fixed a typo in the lineup. Sturm is playing for Hendricks, obviously. I was too busy crunching on a Oats ‘n Dark Chocolate granola bar. My apologies.
--Update, 16:04 first period: Bergenheim’s shot, by the way, was Tampa Bay’s second of the period.
--Update, 15:00 first period. Fans groan/boo as Bergenheim gets a shorthanded semi breakaway.
--Update, 14:08 first period: Clark off for cross checking Fehr in the corner. Clark is just begging to get benched. That’s three minors for him.
--Update, 12:11 first period: Blair Jones off for tripping. Caps get another shot on the power play.
--Update, 11:20 first period: Power play registered one shot. The Caps definitely pursued the puck with more vigor in the corners, but I still saw too many passes. (Backstrom, I’m looking at you.)
--Update, 9:04 first period: Downie off for hooking. We’ll see how much the Caps learned from their Game 1 failures on the power play.
--Update, 7:14 first period: Ohlund clipped Johansson with a high hit (forearm to head) as the rookie carried the puck into the Lightning’s end. Knuble went to stand up for his linemate and got called for interference.
Ovechkin, meantime, is getting his skate looked at by the equipment manager.
--Update, 5:00 first period: Ovechkin slow to get to bench after tangling with Hedman in the O-zone. Captain looked to be in some discomfort, but came back out for his next shift.
--Update, 1:00 first period: Knuble, on first shift, goes right to the net, slams on brakes in the crease. The Caps are going to need him tonight.
--Update, 4 minutes until puck drop: The Caps are starting Laich-Backstrom-Semin; Alzner-Carlson; Neuvirth. (Actually, the lineup says Johansson instead of Alzner, but I’m not sure what that’s about). The Bolts are going with Stamkos-Lecavalier-St. Louis; Brewer-Ohlund; Roloson.
--Update, warmups: Mike Knuble participated in the line rushes and is also wearing the alternate captain’s ‘A’. John Carlson also took warmups and Alex Ovechkin returned to the left side of the top line.
It appears that Knuble’s likely return has triggered a shakeup. So, based on warmups, here’s what the lineup should look like:
If anything changes, I’ll post it ASAP.