Final

Tampa Bay won 4-2 (Game 1 of 6)

Tampa Bay won 4-2

Game 1: Thursday, April 10th
Capitals3Final
Lightning0
Game 2: Saturday, April 12th
Capitals6Final
Lightning3
Game 3: Tuesday, April 15th
Lightning4Final
OT
Capitals3
Game 4: Wednesday, April 16th
Lightning3Final
Capitals1
Game 5: Friday, April 18th
Capitals1Final
Lightning2
Game 6: Sunday, April 20th
Lightning2Final
3OT
Capitals1

7:00 PM ET, April 10, 2003

Tampa Bay Times Forum, Tampa, Florida

1 2 3 T
WSH 1 1 13
TB 0 0 00

R. Lang (Capitals - C): Goals: 2, Assists: 0

O. Kolzig (Capitals - G): Saves: 28, Save Pct.: 1.000

M. Nylander (Capitals - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Kolzig records sixth career playoff shutout

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- The Washington Capitals gave the Tampa Bay Lightning a rude welcome back to the NHL playoffs.

 Olaf Kolzig
Kolzig

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 seven-year absence.

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 tonight?"

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 play.

"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 opportunities.

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 zone.

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 Southeast title.

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.

Game notes
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 Thursday night.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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