WASHINGTON — Sean Bergenheim, Dwayne Roloson and the rest of the Tampa Bay Lightning picked up right where they left off.
Bergenheim scored early, Steve Downie had a goal and an assist, and Steven Stamkos netted the go-ahead goal on a power play, helping the Lightning beat the top-seeded Washington Capitals 4-2 Friday night in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals series.
Roloson, Tampa Bay’s 41-year-old goalie, made 26 saves.
Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin was held without a point and limited to two shots. Alexander Semin and Eric Fehr scored for Washington, which led 2-1 before allowing Downie and Stamkos to put Tampa Bay ahead with goals less than 3½ minutes apart late in the second period.
Dominic Moore added an empty-netter with 40 seconds left for the fifth-seeded Lightning, who have won four straight games since falling behind Pittsburgh 3-1 in the first round.
The Lightning played most of yesterday’s game without veteran left wing Simon Gagne, who was helped to the dressing room after his helmet banged on the ice when he fell hard following a hit by Capitals defenseman Scott Hannan. The Lightning said Gagne would be re-evaluated today.
Game 2 is Sunday night at Washington.
Roloson got the shutout, and Bergenheim provided the only goal when the Lightning edged the Penguins 1-0 in Game 7 on Wednesday night. After that series ended, Tampa Bay flew straight from Pittsburgh to Washington, then was back on the ice less than 45 hours later for yesterday’s second-round opener.
The lack of time off didn’t seem to bother the Lightning.
The Capitals, on the other hand, wrapped up their first series against the New York Rangers in five games last Saturday and had nearly a week off. Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau made light of the “Rest vs. Rust” story line Thursday, but perhaps there was something to it.
In the first round, rookie goalie Michal Neuvirth and the Capitals allowed the Rangers to score a grand total of two goals in the three games played at Washington. The Lightning surpassed that total in a span of two periods.
Neuvirth finished with 20 saves Friday. He entered the day leading the NHL with a 1.38 goals-against average and second with a .946 save percentage. No. 1 in the save category? Roloson.
Tampa Bay’s penalty kill was again tremendous, holding Washington to 0 for 5. The Lightning have killed 39 of 40 penalties this postseason.
Bergenheim put Tampa Bay ahead 2:12 in by poking in the puck during a scrum in front of Neuvirth, who wound up on his back.