The Tampa Bay Lightning didn’t let one single loss spoil the team’s recent run of success.
After completing its first five-game win streak since November 2007, all that prevented Tampa Bay from winning six in a row was a 6-0 loss to the division rival Washington Capitals Friday night.
Tampa Bay trailed Washington by just four points entering the contest after winning five straight, including a 3-0-0 stretch on the road, but couldn’t close the margin after losing its third straight to Washington dating back to March of last season.
Alexander Semin recorded his third hat trick of the season, and John Erskine, John Carlson and Tom Poti also added goals for the Capitals, who improved the NHL’s best record to 16-6-2.
Mike Smith, who came in riding a career-high four-game win streak, stopped 14 shots after allowing four goals but was relieved by Dan Ellis midway through the second period. Ellis finished with nine saves.
Washington has won eight of its last nine at home and rebounded with a win after losing three of the previous four games overall. The Lightning, meanwhile, lost for just the first time since Nov. 14.
Carlson opened scoring with a blistering slap shot at 3:09. Washington’s rookie defenseman received the puck off a draw, wound up, and fired through the legs of Smith for his third of the season.
“It was a lot of back and forth,” Lightning forward Adam Hall said of the hard-fought first period. “There were a couple of areas we needed to improve.”
Washington continued to find the scoring touch, scoring four times in the second period, including three from Semin.
Semin finished off a 2-on-1 rush with a one-timed slap shot past Smith to give Washington a three-goal advantage at 6:52 in the second. The goal came just 2:14 after Erskine made it 2-0 with a shot that initially deflected off the left shoulder of Smith before tickling into the net.
He then added two more to complete the natural hat trick less than five minutes later, his second against the Lightning in as many games this season.
“We certainly bounced back after having a few tough games,” Carlson said. “We put our foot on the gas and just kept pushing.”
Poti’s goal in the third period drew the score to 6-0 after he banked in a shot off Ellis’ pad.
“They’re always a physical team,” Hall added. “We knew that coming in, and they’re always a tough team to beat in front of their home crowd.”
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