The Tampa Bay Lightning elected to focus on the positive aspects of another tough loss. After all, they had every reason to, as their play certainly warranted a more favorable result.
Sean Bergenheim scored the lone goal in regulation and Dwayne Roloson turned in 29 saves through nearly 65 minutes of shutout hockey, as the Lightning dropped a 2-1 contest in the shootout to the division-rival Washington Capitals Monday night.
“I think we can take a lot of good things from this,” Lightning center Nate Thompson said. “It came down to a shootout, and it was a war. For 60 minutes we played hard and it felt like playoff hockey out there.”
Vincent Lecavalier appeared to put Tampa Bay up 2-0 with a goal early in the third period that was waved off when officials determined Martin St. Louis had tripped up Washington net minder Braden Holtby in front of the net, pulling him out of position.
Alexander Semin scored the game-tying goal 14:28 into the final frame for Washington, winners of five consecutive games. Holtby stopped all 21 shots faced.
“Our guy never touched the goalie,” Tampa Bay head coach Guy Boucher said. “It was their player’s stick, and if it’s not a goal, then it has to be a penalty. It was a major tripping. That’s a goal, and that’s 2-0, and that’s probably the game. It’s the wrong call. Period.”
Roloson looked strong from the start and held Washington scoreless for more than two and a half periods, stopping 17 shots through the first 40 minutes and 10 more in overtime.
Simon Gagne nearly doubled the lead five minutes into the second, but was stopped by Holtby from in-close.
Tampa Bay suffered a season-high fourth straight loss that has dropped them from second to fifth in the Eastern Conference standings. It trails Washington by two points for the Southeast Division lead.
The Lightning have scored just five goals during the skid, which seems to be the result of bad bounces and tough breaks more so than a lack of effort.
“I’m very happy with what we’re doing,” Boucher added. “I have a lot of respect for what our guys are doing. The players had the drive and dedication to make this game what it was.”
Bergenheim potted the game’s first goal on the power play at 12:30 after deflecting a slap sot from St. Louis out in front to beat Michal Neuvirth with his 13th of the season.
Washington's starting goalie was hit in the mask by a shot in the opening minutes of the game, but continued to play. Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau said a piece of metal was removed from Neuvirth's eye, and that he would be fine.
“Right off the bat he comes in and they get three great chances on the power play,” Boudreau said. “When he saved that, I think his confidence went up. You knew he was going to be on.”
Semin knotted things up with 5:32 to go in regulation. The Russian forward deked Lightning defenseman Brett Clark as he skated in and beat Roloson towards the far post.
Alex Ovechkin added an assist on the goal and notched the game-winner with the only goal in the tiebreaker. Washington's winning streak is its longest since the Capitals won six straight from Oct. 30 to Nov. 11.