A single loss couldn’t put a damper on what the Tampa Bay Lightning have accomplished to open what has been the beginning of a successful home stand.
After opening an NHL record-tying 12-game home stand with three consecutive victories, the Lightning had their six-game win streak snapped following a 5-2 loss to the division rival Washington Capitals Friday night.
Teddy Purcell scored for the third straight game and Brett Clark also had a power-play goal for Tampa Bay, who despite the loss, leads Washington by three points at the top of the Southeast Division.
“The reality is we had won six in a row and the last time we played these guys, we shut them out,” head coach Guy Boucher said. “We just shut out Philadelphia too, but tonight there was no urgency in our game.”
Tampa Bay had won the previous two meetings earlier in the season behind a pair of shutouts from Dwayne Roloson, who entered Friday’s game on a five-game win streak with a 0.96 goals-against average.
He made 31 saves, but after coming in with a shutout streak of 124:03, gave up his first goal against since Jan. 23 in a 7-1 win against Atlanta.
Nicklas Backstrom scored twice and had two assists, and Brooks Laich and Alex Ovechkin each had goals for Washington, who had gone 0-1-2 in its previous three games, scoring just three goals over that stretch.
Semyon Varlamov added 23 saves to earn his first victory against the Lightning in the last three tries.
“I think we played a solid game tonight,” Ovechkin said. “We played our system and did what we had to do. I think it was a little frustrating for them.”
Tampa Bay entered the contest with the league’s best home penalty kill at 89.7 percent and had killed off 24 straight opposing power plays until Ovechkin snapped the streak at 8:25 with Mattias Ohlund in the penalty box for tripping.
The 20th of the year from the Washington captain made it 3-1 in the second period after Laich gave the Capitals its first lead of the game just 1:47 earlier, while also capping a scoring flurry that erased an early one-goal deficit with three unanswered goals.
Ovechkin also added three assists on the night.
“Every player was committed to doing the right things tonight,” Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau said. “They did, and we won the game.”
Purcell opened the scoring with a wrist shot past Varlamov at 3:21, but Backstrom tied it from in-close, putting back a rebound at 9:09.
Clark’s goal on the power play snapped a 19-game individual goal-less drought and brought the Lightning to within one heading into the final period. He redirected Purcell’s slap shot in front of the net to make it 3-2 with his eighth goal of the season and sixth with the man advantage.
The Capitals went ahead 4-2 on Backstrom’s second of the game at 12:22 of the third.
Jason Chimera had an empty-net goal with 37.1 seconds remaining.
“We knew this game was big and we knew they were going to come out hard,” Lightning forward Steven Stamkos said. “To be honest, I thought we would be ready to go. They played well and said this was the biggest game of the year for them, so there are no excuses. We just didn’t play well.”
Tampa Bay is 11-3-0 in its last 14 games at home.
Friday’s loss was just the second in the last 10 games to a Southeast Division opponent.
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