If most of the sellout crowd of 19,204 at the Forum Thursday night was on hand Tuesday, they may have experienced a pretty severe case of deja vu. For the second game in a row, the Lightning spotted the visitors a three-goal lead, only to mount a rally in the final minutes. This time, unfortunately, the rally fell one goal short, keeping the Bolts winless in their last six games.
"We can't keep digging ourselves a hole. We can't come back every game, obviously. We just need to do a better job of keeping it a closer game." - Lightning forward Teddy Purcell.
The Lightning put together a better all-around effort than last time, avoiding the penalty parade that handcuffed them early on Tuesday versus Montreal, committing only one in the first period and only finding themselves shorthanded once during the entire game. Unfortunately, Washington made that one time hurt. Victor Hedman was whistled for hooking at 1:42 and Troy Brouwer scored on the ensuing power play with assists from Mathieu Perreault and Nicklas Backstrom at 2:40.
Martin St. Louis tied it up for the Lightning at the 8:23 mark, poking the puck past Washington netminder Braden Holtby with help from Benoit Pouliot and Vincent Lecavalier.
The teams were tied 1-1 after the first period.
At the 5:09 mark of the second, Eric Fehr gave Washington the lead again, scoring on assists from Perreault and Joel Ward. For their part, the Bolts played one of their best middle sessions so far this season, a period that has been problematic, maintaining puck possession and applying pressure deep in the Capitals zone. Unfortunately, they were unable to cash in on the scoresheet.
Washington carried the 2-1 lead into the third.,
Fehr scored again at 2:22 of the third, thanks to help from Perreault and John Carlson.
Five minutes later, the gulf widened to 4-1 when Jay Beagle scored on assists from Jeff Schultz and Tomas Kundratek at 7:29.
The Bolts began their comeback bid at the 12:02 mark when Teddy Purcell scored on an assist from Steven Stamkos.
It looked like things had swung entirely in the Lightning's favor at 16:47 when Martin St. Louis was able to make a pass while falling down to spring Nate Thompson, who scored his third of the season on the ensuing breakaway.
That was as close as they would get, unable to tally the equalizer with goaltender Mathieu Garon pulled for the extra skater in the closing seconds. Garon, starting in place of an ill Anders Lindback, stopped 35 of the 39 shots he faced on the night. His counterpart, Braden Holtby, turned away 27 of 30 for the Capitals.
"It's not one of those games where I can go into the room and start pointing fingers at guys. The players gave everything they had today." - Lightning head coach Guy Boucher
The Lightning will be in action again Saturday when they travel to south Florida to take on the Panthers.
- Stat of the night? The Lightning have scored 24 goals in the third period this season, which leads the NHL.
- This was the Capitals second and final visit to the Tampa Bay Times Forum this season. The two teams will hook up again twice more, in Washington.
- Teddy Purcell has a six-game scoring streak against Washington, dating back to last season.
- Martin St. Louis has 13 assists over the last ten games.
- The Lightning honored David Wright as the 23rd Lightning Community Hero of the year during the first period of tonight's game against the Washington Capitals. Wright, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to PlaySmart. A former stand-out football player at Princeton University, Wright was inspired by his parents and past teammates to start PlaySmart, a foundation that runs sports camps for underserved fifth through eighth grade students. Since he began PlaySmart in 1997, it has invested over $1 million in a variety of branded sports programs and scholarships, as well as directing funding to similar organizations that have similar missions. Wright is a married father with four children of his own and a successful businessman who believes that every child should be able to participate in sports and celebrate their achievements with dignity. He also launched the PlaySmart Academy, which combines experiential education and academics training that children can use both their minds and bodies in constructive manners to reach their full potentials.