The improbable is far from impossible.
And the Lightning are well aware of just what that means.
Tampa Bay carries what would appear to be a commanding 2-0 series lead against Washington heading into tonight's Game 3 in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal. But recent history suggests the Lightning should look at things as though they were in an 0-2 hole, play with desperation in their game.
"It means nothing," right wing Marty St. Louis said of the 2-0 lead. "We have to earn it every day. This is about whoever wins four games, not two. Obviously we are happy with the results, but we've done nothing yet.''
Though history suggests coming back from a 2-0 series deficit is a tough climb – only 13 percent of teams have been able to come back and advance – it's happening with more frequency in recent years.
In the first round this season, Boston lost the first two games on home ice to the Montreal Canadiens, rallied to win the next two in Montreal and won the series in seven games.
That series was one of five in the past three playoff seasons in which a team erased a 2-0 deficit. It has happened 42 times since 1942. And just two seasons ago, Washington was in this same exact situation, losing the first two on home ice to the New York Rangers before rallying to win the series in seven games.
The Capitals, although down, certainly are not out.
"We're going there, and we're going to win two games,'' Washington captain Alex Ovechkin said. "It's going to be hard, but right now in this situation, we have to win.''
Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier knows exactly what the Capitals are going through being down 0-2 heading on the road. Tampa Bay was in the same situation in 2003 after losing the first two games at home to Washington, only to rally for four straight victories and advance to the second round for the first time in team history.
"We might bring that up in the locker room, but I think more recently for us, we were losing 3-1 and came back to beat Pittsburgh,'' Lecavalier said. "It really shows that anything can happen in the playoffs.
"Yes, we are up 2-0 and we are happy about it, but we can't let our guard down. We have to keep pushing for that third victory, and just push and push because in playoffs you never know what can happen. We proved that in the first round.''
Since falling behind 3-1 to Pittsburgh, Lightning head coach Guy Boucher has convinced his team not to look ahead or behind, to concentrate only on the now. And that means wiping the slate clean and seeing tonight's Game 3 as just one in a series.
"For me, this is one game, and every game is a championship game, which is something we have tried to do all season,'' Boucher said. "We don't look at standings. We never stressed where we were in the big picture. We kept things very limited to what we have to do.
"It's basically like trying to walk on a tight rope – if you think you are high and look down, you start wobbling. If you look up because you don't think you are good enough, you start wobbling, too, and get shaky. So, just look ahead and focus on the task that you need to do and you keep it a very narrow focus. Then you tend to do things the right way and that's what we have been doing.
"The players are very focused on the moment.''
And with recent examples of teams coming back against seemingly improbable odds, that focus is clear heading into the next two games.
"We know we can't get comfortable," center Steven Stamkos said. "Look at Montreal in the first round, winning the first two on the road and then not being able to recuperate. Right now, it's nice to be up 2-0, but it means nothing unless you win the next game.
"That's our mentality right now. We'll celebrate the win, but like our motto has been all playoffs, and we learned our lesson pretty well in Round 1, you can't get too high and you can't get too low. We know how to manage it now.''
"We're going there, and we're going to win two games,'' Washington captain Alex Ovechkin said. "It's going to be hard, but right now in this situation, we have to win.'' -Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals captain