WASHINGTON – The Tampa Bay Lightning returned from their three-day Christmas break with a one-game road trip to face off against the Washington Capitals. In the first half of back-to-back games, Vincent Lecavalier scored twice and goaltender Karri Ramo 29 saves but the Capitals skated off with a 3-2 win.
Matt Bradley scored the late game-winner and Dave Steckel posted one goal and two assists to lead Washington in the contest.
Lecavalier opened the scoring less than six minutes into the first period, posting his 24th goal of the season. Vaclav Prospal skated the puck across the blue line before dropping a pass to Lecavalier at the top of the right faceoff circle. Although goalie Olaf Kolzig made a right pad save on Lecavalier’s initial wrist shot, the Lightning center gathered the rebound to slide the puck through the five-hole.
Ramo stood tall for Tampa Bay, making a number of strong saves to keep his team in the lead. After Steckel carried the puck down the left wing, Quintin Laing got off a shot from the side. Ramo made the initial save, then denied Steckel by getting his skate on the rebound attempt.
As Washington skated on the power play, Ramo held off the Capitals’ leading scorer Alexander Ovechkin at the side of the net. Nicklas Backstrom made a pass through the crease to Ovechkin at the right of Ramo. The Washington winger looked for the one-time shot a couple feet away from the net, but Ramo made a pad save on the play.
On the same power play Ramo later denied Tomas Fleischmann after he skated alone in front of the net. As Fleischmann made the attempt to shoot high Ramo smothered the puck for the save.
Despite Ramo’s strong play, Steckel connected with 3:49 remaining in the first period to tie the game at one. Although it looked like Ramo had the puck covered in his crease, Steckel popped the loose rebound into the open left side of the net. The goal was Steckel’s third of the season, and all three have come against Tampa Bay.
Early in the second Kolzig held off a Brad Richards shot from the point, but Lecavalier went on to beat the Washington netminder with his 25th goal of the season.
After Shane O’Brien turned over the puck in the Capitals zone, he fed Prospal the puck at the blue line. Prospal made an up-ice pass to Lecavalier at the opposite blue line where the Lightning center skated in on a partial breakaway. Snapping a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle, Lecavalier beat Kolzig to the right stick side.
With his assist on the goal, O’Brien set a new career high of three consecutive games with an assist. O’Brien has recorded three assists in that span to eclipse his previous career-high of two games, set from November 12-15, 2006.
Tying the game at two, Brian Pothier connected with 2:18 remaining in the second with his fourth goal of the season. Firing a slap shot from the right point, Pothier beat Ramo high to the stick side.
As the Lightning looked to reclaim the lead in the third, Kolzig gloved a snapped shot by Filip Kuba before holding off Mathieu Darche at the top of the crease. Darche skated the puck to the front of the net from the deep right corner, but Kolzig blocked the attempt for the save.
Ramo responded with a glove save on a left point shot by Shaone Morrisonn, but Matt Bradley found the back of the net with less than three minutes remaining in the game to give the Capitals a 3-2 lead.
The game marked the first road contest for Ramo who has started three consecutive games since being recalled from the AHL’s Norfolk Admirals. Despite falling to 1-2-0 through those three starts, Ramo has posted a 2.02 goals-against average and .939 save percentage.
Washington out-shot Tampa Bay 32-20 in the contest, with Ramo stopped 29 shots.
The Lightning went scoreless through one man-advantage opportunity, but held the Capitals off the board through four power plays. Tampa Bay has killed off 11-of-11 opponent power plays through their last four games, including the match-up against Washington.
With two goals in the contest Lecavalier posted his 21st multi-point game of the season. Lecavalier continues to lead the league with 55 points (25 goals, 30 assists) through 37 games this season.
The decision stood as the lone Lightning loss of the season when Lecavalier has scored two or more goals.
The Lightning returns to their home ice at the St. Pete Times Forum on Thursday, December 27 (7:00p.m., Sun Sports, 620 WDAE) to face off against the Montreal Canadiens. The game marks the second of four meetings between the clubs this season, the first of two at Tampa Bay.
Martin St. Louis
1 - 0 TBL
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 TBL
2 - 2 Tie