Lightning Comeback Falls Short, 5-3
Three Points from St. Louis; Goal by Stamkos
Once again, the Tampa Bay Lightning turned on the effort and the jets and roared back from a two goal deficit to tie the game in the third period before falling to the Washington Capitals tonight, 5-3.
The Capitals enjoyed an extra man advantage nine times tonight, and converted on three power plays, including a 5-on-3 in the first period, and the Washington power play goals spelled the difference in this contest.
The Capitals opened the scoring at 6:40 of the first period when Alex Ovechkin scored his 52nd goal of the season while the Lightning had both Matt Smaby
, for tripping, and Josef Melichar, for slashing, in the penalty box simultaneously.
Washington increased their lead to 2-0 at 11:17 of the period when Niklas Backstrom took advantage of a roughing penalty on David Koci to net his 20th goal of the season. Backstrom deflected a shot by Ovechkin past Lightning netminder Mike McKenna from just outside the goal crease to McKenna’s left.
The Lightning made the game one goal closer, albeit briefly, when Martin St. Louis
ripped a turnaround shot from the right point which got past Capital goaltender Jose Theodore. Matt Pettinger and Matt Lashoff both earned assists on the goal, number 29 on the season for St. Louis. With the score, St. Louis pulled into a tie for the goal-scoring lead on the Lightning with Vincent Lecavalier
Cutting the Capital lead to one goal had advantages, but the advantages were short-lived as Backstrom came up with his second goal of the game, another power play goal, this time with Lashoff off for holding, with just 22 seconds remaining in the opening period.
At the first intermission, The Lightning trailed, 3-1, and had put only nine shots on the Capital net, compared to 16 shots by Washington, but the Lightning had incurred five penalties totaling 10 minutes.
Tampa Bay got their feet under them, and their full squad on the ice, in the second period and battled the Capitals to a stand-still until Steven Stamkos
cut the Washington lead to one goal, at 19:06, with his 19th score of the season. Stamkos picked up a rebound of a Ryan Malone
shot from the top of the right faceoff circle and pulled the puck to his left before finding the back of the net over Theodore’s outstretched glove. In addition to Malone, St. Louis picked up his second point of the night on the assist.
Tampa Bay completed their comeback and tied the score just 2: 59 into the third period when Vaclav Prospal’s wrist shot from the right faceoff circle eluded Theodore. Prospal’s 19th goal of the season was assisted by St. Louis, who gathered his third point of the game on the play.
But the tie held up for less than two minutes, and the Lightning again fell behind, this time by a margin of 4-3, when Brian Pothier’s shot from the blue line weaved through traffic in front of McKenna and found the twine.
From that point, Tampa Bay could not put another score past Theodore, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. They out-shot the Capitals, 15-10, in the third period and had some good chances to knot the game, especially when Lecavalier broke in alone and had his backhand attempt denied by Theodore’s left pad with just over six minutes remaining to be played.
With McKenna off the ice for the extra attacker, it fell to Ovechkin to put the icing on the cake for Washington with an empty net goal with only 0:07 remaining on the clock.
So, a total effort, but no points earned, for the Lightning. Tampa Bay finished with 36 shots on the Capital net, lead by St. Louis with a remarkable nine shots on goal. McKenna finished with 34 saves on 38 shots.
"We played hard tonight," St. Louis said. "Unfortunately we didn't get the result. But I think if we play like that with that kind of desperation and intensity game-in and game-out, we'd be very happy.”
Of course, the win and two points would have made the Lightning even happier – and that’s what they’ll hope to get when they return home to play the Ottawa Senators on Sunday, just one of three home games remaining in the season.
|Three star selections