WASHINGTON – Filip Kuba scored less than one minute into the game, but the early lead would not be enough for the Tampa Bay Lightning. As the Lightning continued a three-game road trip, league-leading scorer Alexander Ovechkin scored twice to lift the Washington Capitals to a 4-1 win.
Boyd Gordon also scored for Washington, while Tom Poti connected on an empty net to close out the season series between the clubs. In goal for Tampa Bay, Karri Ramo stopped 36 shots, including 19 shots in the opening period.
Only 39 seconds into the game Kuba notched his sixth goal of the season to give the Lightning the lead. Jussi Jokinen took the puck behind the net before passing out to Kuba for an initial shot from the bottom of the right circle. As Cristobel Huet dropped down in his crease, Kuba jumped on his own rebound to put a shot over the goaltender’s outstretched left leg.
Minutes later Brooks Laich turned over the puck in the zone, allowing John Erskine to slap a shot from the left faceoff circle. As the rebound bounced out of the crease, Tomas Fleischman backhanded the puck back to Laich in the slot. Laich put the shot into the open side of the net, but the goal was waived off the preserve the Tampa Bay lead.
Andreas Karlsson later added a shorthanded shot for Tampa Bay after collecting a loose puck in the neutral zone. Carrying the puck across the blue line, Karlsson snapped a shot from the point, but Huet made a pad save.
During the period Ramo held off a pair of chances involved Sergei Fedorov, including getting his glove on a snapped shot from the right hash marks. Eric Fehr later knocked a pass across the zone to Fedorov, who continued the puck back to Fehr as he skated to the net. Alone in front of Ramo, Fehr switched from the backhand to the forehand, but the Lightning netminder knocked the puck away.
The Capitals continued to test Ramo when Ovechkin picked off the puck along the left boards. As he skated towards the net, Ovechekin backhanded a pass to Nicklas Backstrom at the hash marks. Backstrom wristed a shot, but Ramo reached out for the glove save.
Washington eventually broke through at 12:01 of the period when Ovechkin connected for his 64th goal of the season. As Ovechkin made his way to the crease Viktor Kozlov skated the puck down the right wing and towards the net. Ovechkin got a piece of the puck in front, deflecting it off a Lightning defender and into the right side of the net.
With the goal, Ovechkin broke the league record for most goals by a left winger in a single season. Luc Robitaille previously held the record with 63 goals during the 1992-93 season.
As the Capitals skated on the power play early in the second period, Ramo made a strong glove save on a wrist shot by Ovechkin from the left circle.
When Vincent Lecavalier skated out of the box, Huet made a pair of pad saves to keep the game tied at one. Martin St. Louis kicked a pass back to Lecavalier at the top of the right circle for the initial shot. Huet made a second save when he blocked St. Louis’ rebound attempt from the slot.
At the opposite end of the ice Ramo held off a wrist shot by Kozlov from the left circle through traffic. Although Laich tried to bang at the rebound, the puck squirted free and was cleared.
Tampa Bay pressured Huet after he handed the puck off to Erskine. As the Washington defender skated behind the net, Jason Ward poked the puck free and passed up to Craig MacDonald. The Lightning winger tried to put the puck into the left side of the net, but Huet blocked the shot.
Shortly after Ovechkin stole the puck inside the zone before skating in alone against Ramo. Looking to put the puck into the far right corner, Ovechkin fired a wrist shot from the left circle, but Ramo squared to the attempt for the save.
With seconds winding off the clock, Lecavalier skated into the zone on an odd-man rush with St. Louis. Lecavalier snapped a shot on goal, but Huet turned aside the puck.
In the first minute of the final period St. Louis tried to tip a shot by Alexandre Picard in front of the net. When the puck ended up in the corner, Jeff Halpern dug it free and made a pass out to Lecavalier in the slot. Lecavalier fired off a point-blank shot, but Huet slid across to block the puck.
Jokinen later got the puck off the boards to Michel Ouellet at the right circle, where the Lightning winger put a shot on goal. Mathieu Darche crashed to the net but was unable to dig the rebound free.
Midway through the period, less than one minute after Lecavalier left the game following a hit by Matt Cooke, Ovechkin connected to give the Capitals the lead.
Holding on to a pass at the top of the left faceoff circle, Ovechkin wristed a shot that deflected on its way to the net. The puck snuck into the top left corner to give Ovechkin his league-leading 22nd power play goal of the season.
Minutes later Halpern looked to tie the game when he collected the puck in the Capitals’ zone. Skating the puck up the ice and through the slot, Halpern put a wrist shot on goal as he approached the crease, but Huet batted away the puck.
With 3:17 remaining in the game, Gordon connected to give Washington a two-goal lead. Cooke started the play by throwing a pass off the right side boards to Matt Bradley at the right circle. Bradley put a shot on goal and Gordon skated to the crease to backhand the rebound over Ramo.
Poti closed out the scoring with 68 seconds remaining in the game, scoring on a long shot into the empty net.
The Capitals put 40 shots on goal to the Lightning’s 19, but converted only one of five power play opportunities. Lecavalier and Kuba led all Tampa Bay skaters with four shots each.
Tampa Bay closes out their road trip and regular season schedule on Saturday, April 5 (7:00p.m., Sun Sports, 620 WDAE) with a game against the Atlanta Thrashers. The game marks the eighth meeting between the clubs this season, the last of four at Atlanta.
Martin St. Louis
1 - 0 TBL
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 WSH
3 - 1 WSH
4 - 1 WSH
Hi stick - double minor