Did the Capitals help or hurt the Tampa Bay Lightning this season?
Help? Hell no. Aside from losing in a shootout in early December, the Washington Capitals dominated the Tampa Bay Lightning in their other two contests. Tampa Bay scored four goals against Washington in three games. Four, that’s it. Nikita Kucherov scored three of them. That is how suffocating Washington was to Tampa this season.
The December 3 match up was a tight game that Tampa Bay managed to pull out in the shootout. However, this game was one of only six that the Lightning managed to win during the month; they played 14 in total.
Three weeks later the Capitals exacted revenge on Tampa Bay by throttling them 4-0 in Washington D.C. There was nothing positive about this game. The Lightning were missing key players and then managed to lose two more during the game. It was ugly.
Fast forward to the March contest and Tampa Bay put up a better fight, being tied at 2 after the first period left many Lightning fans hopeful that a win was still plausible. Then came the first five minutes of the third period and Tampa found itself looking at a 4-2 game with Washington suffocating their offense. Kucherov managed to make it a one goal game late in the third, but T.J. Oshie’s hat-trick goal into an empty net sealed it with thirty seconds remaining.
Managing two points out of a possible six isn’t horrible, but during a season where Tampa Bay needed every possible point to fight for a playoff berth, not securing at least four points really hurt the Lightning down the stretch.
Washington has had Tampa’s number for over a decade now. Not many teams have thrashed the Lightning quite as well as the Capitals. The Lightning’s record against the Capitals is currently 39-69-6-8 (.377 points percentage). Only one team has a better points percentage against Tampa Bay, and that team is Boston (25-51-9-9 against the Bruins for a .362 points percentage).
There was very little optimism about this season series in retrospect. Tampa Bay squeaked out a shootout win, got thrashed, and then put up an admirable fight, but were simply outgunned by one of the best teams in the league. In the end, it just wasn’t good enough.
Just to add something extra here is the Lightning’s all-time records against every team in the NHL:
December 3, 2016: Tampa Bay 2 Washington 1 (SO)
Preview by JustinG - They have to win eventually, right?
“This is the 120th meeting between the two teams (only the Panthers have played more against the Bolts) and the Lightning sport an ugly 38-67-6-8 record against the Caps. The 67 regulations losses is the most against any franchise. Before Caps fans start gloating, the Lighting still lead in Stanley Cup banners, not that they’re going to point that out like other teams have.”
Recap by Achariya - Bolts snap skid, beat Caps 2-1 in shootout
“Special teams proved to be the making of the game through all three periods, with the penalty kill especially strong through five of the six Bolts’ penalties. Late in the third, with the teams tied up on power play goals, it was hard to see which team would find the back of the net first. In fact, the teams were so evenly matched that the game wasn’t decided until the shootout, with Bishop hanging on for one more shootout save than Braden Holtby.”
December 23, 2016: Washington 4 Tampa Bay 0
Preview by JustinG - Not much, but it could be a life form
“Apparently losing to the Lightning in a shootout 20 days ago lit a bit of a spark under the Capitals, as they went on a six-game winning streak immediately after the loss. They have lost their last two, 2-1 to Montreal and 3-2 to Philadelphia in a shootout, but the winning streak vaulted them well ahead of the Lightning for the final wild card playoff spot. All of this without Alex Ovechkin scoring (2 goals in his last 12 games).”
Recap by Clark J Brooks - Injuries mount as Lightning shut out in Washington
“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).”
March 18, 2017: Washington 5 Tampa Bay 3
Preview by iActium - A chance for redemption
“Since the Lightning were unable to capitalize on their opportunity Thursday night they now get a chance to redeem themselves…against the best team in the league. Thursday’s beatdown by the Toronto Maple Leafs was a firm reminder that without actual NHL caliber centers this team is vulnerable. The Lightning are still in the thick of the playoff race, but Thursday night’s loss puts, even more, an importance on the remaining twelve games on the schedule.”
Recap by waffleboardsave - Capitals clinch a playoff berth while the Bolts need to regroup.
“If you’re an optimist who finds the positives in a loss, at least the Lightning put up a decent fight. On the other hand, you can’t help but feel like they gave one away, at a time they have zero room to do so.”
Nikita Kucherov (3), Alex Killorn (1)
Jonathan Drouin (2), Brayden Point (2), Victor Hedman (1), Ondrej Palat (1)
Andrei Vasilevskiy - 8 goals allowed on 58 shots .862 SV%
Ben Bishop - 1 goal allowed on 25 shots .960 SV%
Krister Gudlevskis - 0 goals allowed on 3 shots 1.000 SV%