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Game 29 recap: Bolts outplayed by Caps, drop 2nd straight home loss

The Washington Capitals beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-3 at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Tuesday night.

Are the Lightning experiencing a slump? Maybe that isn’t answerable until at least another game or two but some disturbing signs are out there. This last five game stretch has been the one of the least productive so far this season with a 2-2-1 record, Only the five games between November 13 – 20 were worse with a 2-3-0 mark but three of those five were played on the road. Special teams play is becoming a serious concern, as Kyle Alexander noted previously. The Lightning provided evidence tonight, going one for three on the penalty kill and failing to convert on all four power plays. Granted, this is only the second thime this season they’ve lost two games in a row but it’s the first time they’ve lost consecutive home games. They were 11-2-1 at Amalie Arena prior to Saturday’s loss to Columbus. It may not be officially a slump yet, but Thursday’s game against Carolina is now a must-win if Tampa Bay is to salvage a .500 homestand.

“Obviously, it’s a long season and you’re going to have ups and downs and now we have two games that we’ve lost against good teams. I feel like we haven’t played horribly. I feel like we fix a few things and hopefully get our power play working as well.” – Lightning forward Valtteri Filppula

Tonight’s game was a better all-around effort than Saturday’s game against the Blue Jackets, although Washington dominated play for most of the opening period. They got on the board at the :40 mark, with Alex Ovechkin scoring on assists from Tom Wilson and John Carlson.

The Lightning managed to tie things up at 13:49 when Brian Boyle redirected Victor Hedman’s shot. J.T. Brown contributed the secondary helper.

Less than a minute later, the Capitals re-took the lead on a power play goal from Matt Niskanen at 14:23. Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson chipped in with assistance.

Throughout the period, at least until the last two or three minutes, Washington had little trouble entering the Lightning zone and even less difficulty keeping the puck there once they got in. It ended with Washington up 2-1.

The second period saw Tampa Bay scoring with in the first moinute when Steven Stamkos scored his 17th of the season and 250th of his career at the :47 mark. Ryan Callahan and Hedman had the assists.

Washington took the lead for the third and final time at 4:30 on a goal by Brooks Laich, who was assited by Joel Ward.

It appeared the Bolts may have tied the game at 17:17 on a goal by Valtteri Filppula but it was waved off immediately, a call that was upheld on further video review from the Situation Room in Toronto.

At the end of two, Washington led 3-2

At 10:52 of the third, Troy Brouwer potted what would be the eventual game winner, getting help from Johansson and Evgeny Kuznetsov.

The Lightning managed to trim the deficit back to one at 19:56 when, with goalie Ben Bishop pulled for the extra skater, Filppula scored on assists from Tyler Johnson and Hedman.

Off the ensuing face-off three seconds later, Ovechkin somehow capped things off on with an empty netter from Backstrom.

“I guess that goal at the end counted, but it’s a one-goal game. You know, we get a power play goal there… but they had their chances, it just didn’t go in the net. Sometimes they’re going in for you and sometimes they are not and it’s too bad because it cost us tonight.” – Lightning head coach Jon Cooper

The Lightning wrap up the current homestand Thursday against Carolina, then will head out on the road for five games before returning home on December 23rd to host the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Game notes:

  • Stamkos became the 10th youngest player to reach the 250 goal milestone in the NHL, three days older than Michel Goulet was when he reached the mark and seven days younger than Jaromir Jagr.
  • The rest of the ten are Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Dale Hawerchuk, Alex Ovechkin, Pierre Turgeon, Steve Yzerman, Jimmy Carson and Mike Bossy.
  • Late comebacks, for either side, are not really a factor in Lightning games so far this season; they’re now 0-8-0 when trailing after two periods and 13-0-1 when leading after two.
  • The Lightning honored Ann Comeau as the 16th Lightning Community Hero of the year during the first period of tonight’s game. Comeau, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to Zoe’s Journey. Comeau’s rocky life circumstances met with resilience has led to her development as a positive leader to women who are struggling with addiction and have lost the ability to be an effective parent. Tragedy occurred early in Comeau’s life when her father was murdered. She simultaneously battled cancer while becoming a mother at the age of 15. After beating cancer, she lost a significant other to a malignant brain tumor. This sent her into a downward spiral of drug addiction which caused Comeau to lose her children to the justice system. Losing custody of her children motivated Comeau to rebuild her life and seek help from a recovery agency. Since then, Comeau has rebuilt her life and become a positive supporter to women facing similar circumstances by sharing her story, teaching classes toward recovery at Zoe’s Journey’s in-patient facility, and currently developing a hands-on parenting class for mothers who have just regained custody of their children. Comeau volunteers approximately 60 hours a month at Zoe’s Journey and impacts over 30 women and families each month. Zoe’s Journey, a faith based non-profit organization, provides support for women and children who have been affected by life altering situations (i.e. incarceration, addiction, homelessness) and helps rebuild their individual lives and family lives with a spiritual and ethical foundation.

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