WASHINGTON – It had been the Tampa Bay Lightning’s mission over the past two weeks to garner more shots on net and to awaken a dismal power play.
Outshooting the Washington Capitals 42-31 and adding two tallies on the man-advantage, Tampa Bay did just that, but the Caps mounted their second straight 6-5 come back win against the Lightning at Verizon Center Tuesday night.
“We threw 40-plus shots on net and scored five-plus goals, we should have been able to win a hockey game with that,” head coach Jon Cooper said.
Yet the Bolts penalty kill went a step in the wrong direction, as the Caps took advantage with three power-play goals in the second period to crawl back from a 3-0 hole that the Lightning had built 11 minutes into the contest, which carried Washington the rest of the way.
Tampa Bay has now lost six straight road games as well as six consecutive in the District.
Defenseman Mike Green collected eight penalty minutes in the first period, which the Bolts capitalized on with back-to-back power-play goals to open the game. Martin St. Louis tallied the first goal just 12 seconds into a four minute double-minor on Green for high-sticking, which sent a bloody Valtteri Filppula to the bench. St. Louis now has at least one point against the Capitals in seven straight games.
“We were looking for our power-play to help us get going,” St. Louis said. “We scored some early goals and that’s what you want on the road.”
The Lightning’s Nate Thompson added an even strength goal 18 seconds after Kucherov’s power-play tally to continue to build on their lead. J.T. Brown led a 2-on-1 into Washington’s zone, which Thompson finished for his second goal in as many games and a 3-0 lead.
“Without some of our regular guys in the lineup we can’t get too cute, we needed to generate shots and that’s what we were trying to do,” St. Louis said.
The Capitals added a marker before the end of the period though and it came from none other then captain Alex Ovechkin. Upon winning a faceoff in the Lightning’s zone, Ovechkin netted a goal with less than six minutes remaining.
Washington then came back with a vengeance in the middle frame scoring a trio of goals to even the game at four. Center Nicklas Backstrom struck first at 6:24 of the second with a wrister top shelf on netminder Ben Bishop. Richard Panik was then summoned to the penalty box for five minutes after a hard board on Caps’ defenseman Karl Alzner.
The major changed the pace of the game with Ovechkin scoring two goals 2:10 a part for not only a hat trick, but a 4-4 tie game.
Before Ovechkin’s two consecutive goals, Tyler Johnson scored his first goal in six games. Ondrej Palat’s tally missed the net and Johnson quickly picked up the loose puck to score in the empty net glove side at 12:41.
The Palat-Johnson-St. Louis line helped the Lightning take a 5-4 lead, combining for eight points on the night, and it seemed the Bolts would walk away with the victory. Yet Ovechkin struck again, scoring his fourth goal of the game with 32.4 seconds remaining in regulation. It was just the third time in his career he managed the feat.
After surviving a scoreless overtime, the Caps and Bolts headed to the shootout. It would take five rounds to decide the victor as Troy Brouwer tallied, but Palat did not to secure Washington’s 6-5 win.
UP NEXT – The Bolts return from the District Tuesday night and will practice at the Tampa Bay Times Forum Wednesday. They then meet the Red Wings for the second time this season at home Thursday, before three straight games on the road.