TAMPA, Fla. – Sean Bergenheim scored two goals and Dwayne Roloson stopped 33 shots as the surging Tampa Bay Lightning completed a series sweep of the top-seeded Washington Capitals with a 5-3 victory in Game 4 on Wednesday night.
Playing on consecutive nights for the first time this postseason, the Lightning extended their winning streak to seven games and advanced to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since their 2004 Stanley Cup championship season.
For Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals it was yet another bitter postseason disappointment.
Rookie Michal Neuvirth stopped 32 shots for Washington, but Bergenheim scored twice in eight minutes during the second period to build a 3-1 lead that induced chants of "sweep, sweep, sweep" from a sellout crowd of 20,835.
The Lightning's big three of Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier and Steven Stamkos have elevated their games, but so has Bergenheim, who has a team-leading seven goals through two rounds. St. Louis' sixth goal of the playoffs, with 3:08 remaining, finished Tampa Bay's scoring.
Ryan Malone and Marc-Andre Bergeron added goals for the Lightning, who have not lost since dropping into a 3-1 hole against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round.
Marco Sturm, John Erskine and John Carlson scored for the Capitals.
The Lightning won the first two games in Washington, then pushed the Capitals to the brink of elimination by winning Game 3 in Tampa on Tuesday night.
They were expecting the toughest game of the series Wednesday, calling the Capitals a proud team that would not be taken lightly. Washington felt the first three games could have gone either way, with Ovechkin insisting after Game 3 that the series was far from over and that he expected his team to come back and win.
Malone scored with Ovechkin in the penalty box for charging, giving Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead at 12:37 of the first period. The Lightning have not lost a game in the playoffs in which they've scored first, however Washington proved again to be resilient after falling behind early.
The Capitals tied it late in the first, scoring for only the second time in 17 power-play opportunities in the series. Jason Arnott and Ovechkin assisted on Sturm's goal, however Washington couldn't build on the momentum during a second period in which it was outshot 17-10.
Bergenheim's sixth and seventh goals of the playoffs put the Lightning up 3-1. The Caps tightened it with Erskine's unassisted goal at 13:40 of the second, but Roloson answered every challenge after that.
The Lightning have won eight consecutive postseason games against the Capitals, dating to the first round in 2003. … Washington D Mike Green, who left during the third period Tuesday night with what the Capitals described as a lower body injury, didn't play in Game 4. … Tampa Bay LW Simon Gagne and D Pavel Kubina sat out for the third consecutive game because of undisclosed upper body injuries. They are day to day. … St. Louis, Lecavalier and Kubina are the only players remaining on the Lightning roster from the Stanley Cup championship team.
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