TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- The Washington Capitals gave the Tampa Bay
Lightning a rude welcome back to the NHL playoffs.
Robert Lang scored two goals and Olaf Kolzig made 28 saves as
the Capitals beat the young, inexperienced Lightning 3-0 Thursday
night to ruin Tampa Bay's return to the postseason after a
Washington will try to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven
Eastern Conference series here Saturday.
"You want to try to get a series over with as quickly as
possible," Kolzig said, stressing that the Capitals aren't
satisfied with winning Game 1 on the road.
"Our goal tonight was to try to win this game, and we did that.
Now, we've got to go out on Saturday, play the same way and
frustrate them. I'm sure they're going to make some adjustments.
That's what playoff hockey is all about."
Kolzig handily won Round 1 of the key matchup between him and
Tampa Bay goalie Nikolai Khabibulin.
The Washington goaltender recorded his sixth career playoff
shutout, stopping 10 shots to cling to a 1-0 lead early in the
second period. His sensational play on a potential
momentum-shifting shot by Vincent LeCavalier left the coaches of
both saying that save was the biggest of the night.
Lang scored his second goal three minutes later.
"That's the turning point. If they score there, it may be a
different hockey game," Washington coach Bruce Cassidy said. "We
expect that out of Olie. He's given it to us all year, so why not
Kolzig rejected 13 more shots in the third period, when the
Lightning made a futile attempt to get back into the game after
Michael Nylander's goal made it 3-0 with just under 19 minutes to
"They ended up scoring at opportune times and we didn't,"
Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella said.
"You look at the score. It's 3-0 and it's a blowout. It wasn't.
There's so many little things that happened. Little things change
the game. We need to force some breaks our way the next game."
Khabibulin, a four-time All-Star who's never won a playoff
series, was instrumental in the third-seeded Lightning going 14-2-8
down the stretch to win their first Southeast Division title.
But the Tampa goalie wasn't on top of his game Thursday night.
The Capitals were outshot 28-22, but made the most of their
Lang, assisted by Mike Grier and Peter Bondra, scored late in
the first period. His scored the next time a two-on-one break,
taking a pass from Dainius Zubrus and beating Khabibulin after
Tampa Bay's Jassen Cullimore turned the puck over in the neutral
Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk said Tampa Bay, which had 10
players making their playoff debuts, will bounce back.
"The series isn't over. There's a long way to go," the 21-year
veteran said. "They've got to win three more games."
The playoff appearance is the first for the Lightning since
1996, when they lost to the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round.
The Capitals won the season series between the teams 3-2, but Tampa
Bay entered the postseason brimming with confidence after making
their torrid stretch run to edge Washington by one point for the
The biggest question in the series is whether the Lightning's
inexperience will be a liability against a playoff-seasoned team
that has one of the league's highest payrolls and is trying to shed
the label of playoff underachievers.
The Capitals haven't won a playoff series since 1998, when they
made the Stanley Cup finals and were swept by Detroit. They failed
to qualify for the postseason two of the last four years and were
first-round losers in 2000 and 2001.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman attended the game. ... The
Lightning did a good job limiting Jaromir Jagr's opportunities,
holding him to one shot. ... Tampa Bay RW Martin St. Louis left the
game in the second period after being hit in the face with a puck.
He received 20 stitches in his left cheek and returned. ... Games 3
and 4 will be played next Tuesday and Wednesday in Washington,
where the Capitals have an 11-game unbeaten streak against the
Lightning dating to Nov. 4, 1998. ... Andreychuk has appeared in
more regular-season games (1,515) than any player who has not won
the Stanley Cup. He played in his 129th career playoff game