TAMPA, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Lightning scored twice in a span of 33 seconds late in the third period, but it wasn’t enough to take down the Washington Capitals on Saturday night. As the clubs played in their third of four match-ups at the St. Pete Times Forum this season, the Capitals skated away with a 3-2 victory.
Vaclav Prospal and Jan Hlavac scored for the Lightning as the team put 41 shots on goal in the contest. Washington’s Alexander Semin scored with three minutes remaining in the game to close out the scoring.
The teams nearly skated through a scoreless first period, but Tomas Fleischmann scored his eighth goal of the season to give the Capitals a 1-0 lead. Converting a Washington power play, Semin made a pass through the goal mouth to Fleischmann as he cut to the net. Fleischmann backhanded the puck over goaltender Johan Holmqvist for the score.
During the period Holmqvist made a number of strong saves, denying league-leading scorer Alexander Ovechkin and his teammate, Semin. In addition to making a pad save on an Ovechkin wrist shot from the left wing, Holmqvist held off a pair of slap shots from the point by the Russian duo.
Late in the period Semin fired off a shot from the left faceoff circle, but the slapped attempt rang off the right post.
One of the Lightning’s strongest chances of the period came on a one-timed slap shot by Brad Richards. As Jason Ward made a pass off the left side boards, Richards put a shot on netminder Olaf Kolzig from the slot.
Although neither team got on the board during the middle frame, the Lightning posted 24 shots on goal during the period.
Early in the second Holmqvist reached out to make a glove save when Matt Bradley rifled a shot from the right point.
|Lightning winger Vaclav Prospal (20) tallied the team's first goal of the game in the third period. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)|
Within the next few minutes the clubs exchanged a series of shots, including an attempt by Michel Ouellet as he skated down the left side. Ouellet cut to the front of the net, but Kolzig blocked the shot for the save.
As the play turned up the ice, Semin fed Matt Pettinger with a pass at the front of the net. From a few feet to the left of Holmqvist, Pettinger got off the shot but was unable to connect.
Kolzig went on to smother a Martin St. Louis shot, a one-timer off a feed by Prospal at the right side board, before the Lightning peppered the Washington netminder late in the period.
Kicking off a series of shots, Richards skated in to the right of Kolzig for a wrist-shot attempt. Hlavac followed up with an almost identical shot from the same spot at the bottom of the left faceoff circle, before losing the puck in the goalmouth following a centering feed by Richards.
As the shift came to an end Hlavac skated into the zone on a partial breakaway. Defenseman Jeff Schultz came up from behind Hlavac on the play, breaking up the scoring attempt as the skaters reached the bottom of the slot.
Tampa Bay closed out the period with the man-advantage, looking to send the game into the third tied at one. Although a St. Louis rebound attempt went high over the net, Kolzig was forced to make a pair of consecutive pad saves on Vincent Lecavalier shots through the slot.
On the same power play, Kolzig held off a hard-angled shot by Dan Boyle from the bottom of the right faceoff circle. Ouellet went on to look for a deflection in front of the net, but the period came to a close.
During the final period Holmqvist held on to a tip-in attempt by David Steckel, but the Washington center went on to post his fifth goal of the season. As the Capitals skated in against Holmqvist on a 2-on-1 rush, Bradley fed a pass to Steckel. Holmqvist got a piece of the shot with his arm, but the puck deflected into the net for the score.
Less than two minutes later, at 15:49 of the period, Prospal scored his eighth goal in his previous nine games to bring the Lightning within one.
After a Lecavalier shot went wide of the net, Prospal collected the loose puck and skated to the goal line. Prospal threw a shot at Kolzig, with the puck ricocheting off the inside of the goalie’s right leg and through the five-hole. The goal was Prospal’s 27th of the season.
A mere 33 seconds later Tampa Bay added their second goal to tie the game at two. Reaching out to deflect a Filip Kuba shot from the point, Hlavac tipped the puck from the left faceoff circle. Hlavac scored for the second time in consecutive games, giving the Lightning winger nine goals of the season.
Despite the comeback, the Capitals responded less than a minute later to reclaim their lead. Semin notched his 16th goal of the season, sliding a loose rebound into the open left side of the net.
Although the Lightning fought to tie the game in the closing minutes of the third, Kolzig made a pair of pad saves to hold on for the win. In addition to stopping a tipped shot by Boyle, Kolzig blocked a St. Louis attempt on the rebound.
“We’re going to fight ‘til the end,” Boyle said. “Obviously this one hurts, no doubt about it… but we’re going to keep fighting.”
Tampa Bay out-shot Washington in the contest, 41-35, but was held off the board in their lone man-advantage opportunity of the night. The Lightning killed off three of four Capitals power plays. Richards and Lecavalier led all Tampa Bay skaters with six shots each.
Following the contest the Lightning have a three-day break before playing a pair of back-to-back road games against the Buffalo Sabres and New York Islanders. Tampa Bay faces the Sabres on Wednesday, February 20 (7:00p.m., ION, 620 WDAE) before taking on the Islanders on Thursday night.
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