The Washington Capitals beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-0 Friday night at the Verizon Center.
What comes after “depleted”? Because we’re running out of words to describe what’s left of the Lightning roster in the wake of an absurd and ongoing rash of injuries.
Already without Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat, Vladislav Namestnikov, Ryan Callahan, Ben Bishop and Cedric Paquette, games remain to be played and players continue to get hurt. Three more players were dinged up in to as-yet-to-be-fully-ascertained degrees in tonight’s second game of a back-to-back (following last night’s win over St. Louis in Tampa).
As such, whoever the next men up happen to be, they have to work hard, play smart and avoid mistakes. In other words, they can’t start the way they did tonight.
Just 55 seconds in, on the first shift, on the first shot, Washington’s John Carlson beat Andrei Vasilevskiey with a slap shot to open the scoring. Karl Azner and Tom Wilson got the assists.
It took 4:02 for the Lightning to register their first shot of the game and they would only get two during the entire period, over 15 minutes apart, in spite of having two power plays. Sloppy puck handling and terrible turnovers were consistently on display throughout the first twenty minutes of play.
At 15:42, Carlson struck again, this time on a snap shot and getting assists from Marcus Johansson and Nicklas Backstrom.
The Capitals carried the 2-0 lead into the first intermission.
The Lightning came out much stronger to begin the second, firing off four shots in the first three minutes.
At 10:48 Alex Ovechkin slipped in behind the Lightning defense on a line change, came in on Vasilevskiey alone and scored to make it 3-0, which would hold through the end of the period. Matt Niskanen had the lone assist.
Worse than anything happening on the scoreboard, the Lightning would see Jonathan Drouin, Braydon Coburn and Victor Hedman leave with injuries, although Hedman would return for the start of the third.
At 8:33 Johansson scored unassisted and Vasilevskiey’s night was over, replaced by Kristers Gudlevskis. Washington goalie Braden Holtby turned away all 23 shots he faced in notching the shutout.
The Lightning are off for the holiday and will return to action when they host the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night at Amalie Arena.