Game 15: Tampa Bay Lightning at Washington Capitals

The Tampa Bay Lightning lost to the Washington Capitals 6-3.

Don't let the score fool you - this game wasn't dominated by the Caps until the third period. The Lightning played well in the first, and it was pretty even for most of the second. And then, there was the third.

What did the team in was Vincent Lecavalier breaking his hand in the first period. This team may be Steven Stamkos's in the future, but it's definitely Vinny's right now. Oh, Vinny played a bit in the first and second with the broken hand, but he was unable to continue in the third - and that's when the game unraveled for the Lightning.

Lecavalier is expected to be out 3-4 weeks with a fractured bone in his right hand.

Seriously, the team ought to consider sitting Vinny out in games in DC. It's not a good place for him to play. A couple of years ago, he separates his shoulder, and now he breaks his hand. For his own health, they just shouldn't let him on the ice at the Verizon Center.

Martin St. Louis tried his best to get the team going, and he made some fantastic plays, but they were still playing catchup. Some big defensive mistakes by Tampa Bay is what finally closed out this game for them. Alex Ovechkin, who didn't do much for most of the game, got a goal on a huge defensive snafu.

And that was really the other story of the game - the defense. In the first period, the defense was fantastic. The second period, they were average. In the third, they were awful. The lack of communication directly led to two of the Caps' four third period goals.

There was no doubt, however, that the team took a big mental drop when Lecavalier stopped playing in the second, however. Without him in this game, they floated along like a rudderless ship without any sense of direction. Stamkos may be a scoring machine, and St. Louis may be the team's heart, but Lecavalier is their sense of identity.

The Lightning play again tonight in Pittsburgh. Game time is 7 pm Eastern. The Raw Charge game thread will be open for business 30 minutes before the game, so stop in and say hi.

Lightning vs Capitals recap [TSN]

Lightning vs Capitals boxscore [TSN]

Lightning vs Capitals coverage [SB Nation]

Japers' Rink [SB Nation]