If the Tampa Bay Lightning and their 41-year-old goalie, Dwayne Roloson, were exhausted, they sure hid it well in a road game Friday.
Sean Bergenheim scored early, Steven Stamkos added the go-ahead goal on a power play, and Roloson made 26 saves, helping the Lightning beat Alex Ovechkin and the top-seeded Washington Capitals, 4-2, in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
“I don’t know about us being tired,” said Bergenheim, who scored 2 minutes, 12 seconds into the game. “I don’t feel it right now.”
Steve Downie had a goal and an assist, Dominic Moore added an empty-netter with 40 seconds left for the fifth-seeded Lightning, who have won four games in a row since falling behind Pittsburgh in the first round, 3-1.
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When Tampa Bay won at Pittsburgh, 1-0, in Game 7 on Wednesday, Roloson got the shutout and Bergenheim provided the only goal. The Lightning flew straight to Washington that night, crawling into their hotel beds after 3 a.m. Thursday.
They were back on the ice for a 7 p.m. faceoff Friday.
“It was good for us, in a way,” Tampa Bay center Nate Thompson said. “We kind of get right back at it and don’t have a lot of time off. We’re still in game mode.”
Ovechkin was held without a point and limited to two shots, and Washington went 0-for-5 on the power play – making Tampa Bay’s penalty killers 39-for-40 this postseason.
“We’re surprised by the result tonight — but happy with it,” Roloson said. “We were lucky to win a hockey game. We had some bounces.”
That’s true. For example, the Lightning trailed 2-1 but tied it with 3:43 left in the second period, when Downie was trying to center the puck, but his pass deflected off defenseman Scott Hannan’s stick and fluttered over goalie Michal Neuvirth’s right shoulder.
And Stamkos’ goal came with 31.6 seconds remaining in the period, when Neuvirth stopped his initial try but the puck came right back to the forward, who put in the rebound.
Game 2 is Sunday night at Washington.
At Sharks 2, Red Wings 1 (OT): Little-used Benn Ferriero scored 7:03 into overtime of his playoff debut on a deflected shot in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal series.
The Buffalo Sabres signed long-time coach Lindy Ruff to a multiyear contract extension. Ruff is the winningest coach in team history after being hired before the 1997-98 season. ... Pittsburgh’s Dan Bylsma, Nashville’s Barry Trotz and Vancouver’s Alain Vigneault are finalists for the Jack Adams Award given to the NHL’s coach of the year.