The Tampa Bay Lightning refused to go down without a fight.Down a pair of goals twice in the final minutes of the third period, the Lightning brought the score to within one both times, but still came up short despite a valiant effort as they fell 4-3 to the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center on Friday night.
With Washington clinging to a 3-1 advantage late in the game, Stamkos’ goal while on the power play reduced the deficit to one with 3:24 left to go in regulation.
The play went under review after his shot ricocheted off the post and hit the camera in the back of the net before bouncing back into play, but was ruled a good goal.
Stamkos now has goals in all but two of his past nine games and 30 overall on the season to lead the NHL.
After Troy Brouwer made it 4-2 with his third goal of the night, Lecavalier brought the Lightning back to within one a second time on a tip-in of Martin St. Louis’s shot with 10 seconds to go.
Tomas Vokoun stopped 29 of 31 shots on the night, including 15 just in the third period, to halt the Lightning comeback effort and earn his second straight victory after earning a 1-0 shutout of the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday.
Washington won for the sixth straight time at home and now has victories in six of the last eight overall to climb back into the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference. The Capitals improved to 11-9-1 under head coach Dale Hunter, who replaced Bruce Boudreau behind the bench in November.
Alex Ovechkin had the other goal for Washington, and Dennis Wideman and Brooks Laich each added two assists for the Capitals.Dwayne Roloson made 16 saves for the Lightning and Tampa Bay outshot Washington 31-20 in the game. The Capitals managed just five shots on goal in the second period.
Tampa Bay didn’t make it easy for itself to start the game.The Lightning were called for three consecutive penalties in the opening five minutes, and after killing off the first, Washington made sure to make Tampa Bay pay on each of the next two.
With St. Louis in the penalty box for interference, Ovechkin opened the scoring and grabbed the Capitals a quick lead with the man advantage after wristing one from the slot past Roloson at 3:52.
Brouwer then made it 2-0 just 1:53 later after looking off a pass and slipping a shot through Roloson’s legs from the side of the net with Eric Brewer off due to a delay of game penalty.
“It makes it tough to get going when you skate shorthanded against this team right at the outset,” Lightning assistant coach Martin Raymond said. We just need to try and keep it simple.”
Washington went up by three when Brouwer’s second of the night came on a rebound out in front at 5:25 of the middle frame.
Pyatt brought the score to 3-1 after taking a feed from St. Louis behind the net. St. Louis got things started when he stole the puck from Mike Knuble and fought off a defender before finding Pyatt parked at the side of the cage, who jammed one past Vokoun to get the Lightning on the board.
Things started to get heated late in the game with the Lightning threatening to spark a rally and force overtime.
After Brouwer shoved St. Louis head-first into the side boards, Stamkos came to his teammate’s aid and engaged in a scrum with the Capitals forward, landing them both with penalties. Brouwer got an extra two minutes for roughing, which put Tampa Bay on the power play, but the Bolts failed to capitalize.
Stamkos, though, made good on an additional chance with the man advantage after Roman Hamrlik flipped the puck over the glass for a delay of game penalty with four minutes left.
With Tampa Bay again on the power play, Stamkos made it 3-2 with a wrist shot to the far post past Vokoun. Lecavalier scored 3:13 later to again bring the Lightning within one, but not before Brouwer’s third of the night completed his first career hat trick into an empty net.
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