(John Raoux/AP)

Others, however, have concluded that Tampa is just plain better. Like ESPN’s Barry Melrose, for example.

“Tampa’s a better team,” the analyst, former Tampa coach and friend of Bruce Boudreau said. “They’re better fundamentally. You saw the game Washington was leading. They scored first, which was very important -- they hadn’t done that -- so that bodes well for them. They had the lead going into the third period, that bodes well for them. And they can’t get the job done.

“On all the goals tonight, fundamental errors....On Stamkos’s goal, the winger along the wall [Eric Fehr] did not get it out, that’s a fundamental mistake. You can’t lose physical battles on the wall. [On the fourth goal] you’re gonna see [Ryan] Malone go to the net. [John] Carlson’s back there, it’s a two-on-two, no harm done, Carlson just loses the physical battle with Malone. You can’t have that happen at this time of the game, at this time of the year.”

Melrose praised Alex Ovechkin’s play, but said the team’s other stars did not show up, and that the loss in Game 3 was devastating.

“They had to win this game,” he said. “This was the game they had to win. I thought they played hard, but they did a lot of stupid things, and it came back to haunt them. Crushing....

“I personally don’t think a lot of Washington Capitals believe they can win. There were a lot of passengers tonight for Washington. Ovechkin certainly wasn’t one of them, I thought he played great, but there were a lot of passengers for Washington, especially late in the game after Tampa made it 4-3. I didn’t see a lot of fire out of a lot of guys on that Washington Capitals team.”

As for the owner, call him down but not yet out. Here’s Ted Leonsis, writing on his blog:

We have a game to play this evening, a unique back-to-back game. A win is a must have deliverable for us under very difficult circumstances.

I, too, am disappointed that we lost two leads last night. Every game is close and we didn’t close out that game and take a win and the momentum back in the series. I am sorry.

We have a lot of work to do.

Yeah. I would agree that this game is a must have deliverable under very difficult circumstances.