WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- Coach John Tortorella's line juggling has breathed life into the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Martin St. Louis scored a pair of second-period goals and Vincent Lecavalier added an insurance tally early in the third as the Lightning evened their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with a 3-1 victory over the Washington Capitals.
After his team was outscored, 9-3, in the first two games in Tampa Bay, Tortorella was searching for ways to revive a struggling offense. Before Game Three, he moved St. Louis to the top line alongside Lecavalier and Vaclav Prospal.
"Marty has done all the little things and sometimes you never know when it's going to click," Tortorella said. "The key with Marty is that he stopped thinking. Marty is the kind of thinker that when things stop going right offensively, he ends up thinking too much."
"It hasn't changed our thinking in any way," St. Louis said of the line changes. "We all try create offensive chances. Go back to last game - we got chances early on and get confidence off that, and we've been going with it ever since."
On a team with limited postseason experience, putting St. Louis and Lecavalier next to Prospal, who made postseason appearances with Philadelphia and Ottawa has seemed to work for Tampa Bay, which has regained the coveted home-ice advantage.
"Well, it's worked for sure the last two games," Lecavalier said. "Marty has a lot of speed, and who doesn't want to play with Marty? He's a great hockey player. And also Vaclav Prospal, I played with him all year. It's been working great right from the get-go, the first shift of that last game. We were flying out there."
In Tuesday's 4-3 victory, the trio combined for four goals and three assists, with Lecavalier netting the game-winner in overtime. It clicked again in this one.
"We said we thought last night was an aberration with our guys," Capitals coach Bruce Cassidy said. "Halpern's line has been tough to play against all year. We want to give them that assignment. They're a shutdown line and they take pride in it. This is the time of year you make a name for yourself in that regard."
St. Louis opened the scoring 11:55 into the second on an outstanding individual effort. After taking defenseman Cory Sarich's pass, he took on three defenders before lifting a slap shot over goaltender Olaf Kolzig.
St. Louis put the Lightning ahead for good, 2-1, with another outstanding effort, finishing off a shorthanded 2-on-1 with Dave Andreychuk with 2:20 remaining in the period.
Lecavalier capped the scoring early in the third. After winning a faceoff, he broke for the net and put a rebound of defenseman Jassen Cullimore's slap shot into a half-empty goal.
Peter Bondra had the lone tally for Washington, which had won the previous 11 home games with Tampa Bay before Tuesday.
Game Five is Friday in Tampa Bay.
Playing on back-to-back nights in the playoffs for the first time in 14 years, the older Capitals could not overcome several defensive lapses and struggled to generate quality chances after Lecavalier's tally.
"I don't know if mental errors is the right word," Cassidy said. "We lacked execution in the back end tonight. Their forecheck pressure created some problems for us and we didn't beat it very well. We've said all year when we move the puck out of our zone quickly to our forwards, we can be dangerous because we have some guys who can quickly go on the attack. Tonight, we didn't do that."
The home team has not won a game nor held a lead in the first four games of the series. And the Capitals are just 2-5 in series in which the teams split the first four contests.
"It's obviously disappointing," Kolzig said. "They were a frustrated group coming up here. It's a best-of-three now. We can't sit here and be the team with the deer caught in headlights (look). We've got to get back to the way we played last week and raise our game again. It's do or die time."
Asked about Tampa Bay's chances to become the 22nd team since 1990 to overcome a two-game deficit and win a series, Lecavalier said, "I'm happy we're going back to Tampa. We had a rough time the first two games of the series, but we'll come back and show the people in Tampa we're going to work really hard and make sure we get that third win."
After a sloppy first period, the intensity picked up early in the second. The Lightning had a golden opportunity to grab the lead just 39 seconds in when Bondra received a double-minor for an elbow that bloodied Lecavalier.
But they managed just one shot and had most of their shots blocked.
Minutes later, St. Louis started a rush in his own zone and deked defenseman Brendan Witt before putting a shot through Kolzig's pads.
But Washington's Kip Miller turned over the puck to Andreychuk at the left point during the Caps' first power play. The Lightning captain carried through the Washington zone and, as Kolzig anticipated his shot, dished to St. Louis for an easy goal.
"That was a great play, that pass," St. Louis said. "The better play is the blocked shot and to keep going where the puck is going. It was a great pass, but the two plays prior to that are the big plays. I just tried to give Dave an option to maybe slide it across to me."