A strong effort fell just short in the nation’s capital Sunday night.
Vincent Lecavalier and Alex Killorn each had goals, and Ben Bishop was strong making 34 saves in his third consecutive start, but as the Tampa Bay Lightning fell 4-2 to the division-rival Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center to cap the finale of a back-to-back set for both teams.
The defeat was the Lightning’s second in a row after the club dropped the first half of the set on consecutive nights Saturday on Long Island.
Washington, meanwhile, continues to surge, as the Capitals have now won four straight and have gone 8-1-1 in their past 10 games.
Alex Ovechkin scored twice for Washington, including an empty-netter with four seconds remaining in regulation that capped the scoring.
Ovechkin’s performance Sunday night now renders him tied with the Lightning’s Steven Stamkos for the NHL goal-scoring lead with 25 apiece.
Joel Ward and John Carlson also had goals for the Capitals, which remain at the top of the Southeast Division with 42 points.
Goaltender Michal Neuvirth finished the night with 28 saves for Washington, which overcame two one-goal deficits throughout the contest before eventually earning the win.
Tampa Bay wasted no time in putting the game’s first tally on the scoreboard.
Lecavalier made it 1-0 while on the power play after he took a nice feed from Martin St. Louis in the goal mouth and shoveled it home past Neuvirth to open the game’s scoring just 1:52 into the contest.
“It was a great play by Marty,” Lecavalier said. “I just tried to get good body positioning on the defenseman.”
St. Louis, skating in his 900th game in a Lightning sweater, recorded point number 899 for his career, passing Ray Ferraro for 98th place on the NHL’s all-time points list.
Washington, despite being down by a goal after 20 minutes, came out strong in the second, scoring three times in the middle frame to take a one-goal lead into the third period.
Ovechkin’s tip-in got things started and tied things at a goal apiece at 3:14, beating Bishop for his 24th of the year.
The slight momentum wouldn’t last though, as Killorn came right back with a burst of speed skating in on Neuvirth, before putting on a fancy backhand move that beat the Capitals netminder through the five hole to reclaim Tampa Bay’s lead at 2-1 nearly seven minutes into the middle frame.
Washington knotted things up a second time at 12:54 of the second, as Carlson’s slap shot appeared to change direction after getting a piece of Eric Brewer’s stick on the way in and sailing over Bishop’s glove to make it 2-2.
Ward then gave the Capitals their first lead of the game just over three minutes later when he skated around Nate Thompson and lifted a shot past Bishop for a 3-2 advantage.
The slight advantage carried over into the third, as Ovechkin’s empty netter for his 25th of the year capped the scoring.