Game 44: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Washington Capitals

In the fourth meeting between the two Southeast division rivals, the Tampa Bay Lightning shut down the Washington Capitals 3-0 last night in regulation.

Besides overcoming the Capitals for the second time in eight days, last night was a good recovery for the Bolts, after recent losses to Pittsburgh and New Jersey.

It's important to say that last night was a case of being in the right place at the right time--the Bolts had the advantage of being at home, after playing their last game on Sunday, while for the Caps, it was the second of two back-to-back games on the road. The Capitals were also without left winger Alexander Semin, who this season has totaled 18 goals and 17 assists.

Tampa Bay had the upper hand, but made the most of the opportunity to overcome the Capitals.

I guess you could say it was a big deal.

Sean Bergenheim, who scored the game's second goal, spoke to the rivalry between the two teams:

"For a few years, they've been the team to beat. I think we're making a case for ourselves to be the team to beat. We want to get better all the time and if you look back at our games against Washington during this season, we didn't start very well, but last game we got the win on the overtime, and now we beat them on the regular time. We're doing good, we're improving, and that's what we want to do the whole season."


The Bolts took an early lead, scoring four minutes in, with the game's opening goal from

Dominic Moore

, assisted by

Nate Thompson


Dwayne Roloson

. Thompson came up the right side of the ice, spun, and took the shot, giving Dominic Moore the rebound opportunity, getting the puck in the net with a wrist shot from the right side of the net.Still in the first, there was an other interesting moment when Alexander Ovechkin earned a power play for the Caps after being cross checked Mattias Ohlund. Ovie, however took a slashing call less than a minute later, leading into a 4-on-4 between the teams.

Penalty killed, the second Lightning goal followed, coming off of Victor Hedman's shot from the blue line, which was batted in by Bergenheim from the left side of the net raising the score 2-0. Bergie, of course, is now considering a new career in baseball, judging from the way he swung the puck in.

Simon Gagne scored the game's third goal at the end of the second, on a breakaway challenging Semyon Varlamov, raising the score 3-0 knocking the puck over Varlamov's right side.

Prior the goal, there was a fantastic bit of roughing between Steve Downie and Scott Hannan, as expected. Downie was given two minutes for roughing, and Hannan four 9:47 into the second.

To their credit, the Capitals fought for the entire game, but had little success.

Low point: Despite the win, at some points it was disappointing to see the Bolts missing several decent scoring chances here and there. The Lightning seems unable to make the power play goal, with only one in the last 25 power plays, including eight last night. This was underscored during the 5-on-3 in the second, but is, perhaps, attributed to the opposition in net, not to the lack of effort.

High point: This game was a success because it demonstrated depth. With goals from Moore, Bergenheim, and Gagne, it shows again that this is not simply a one-dimensional team. Besides the three goal scorers, the 38 shots on goal were composed, in part, by four from Vincent Lecavalier, four from Victor Hedman, and seven from Steven Stamkos.

Also: The Roloson move is proving to be a fantastic one. Roloson made 23 saves, but didn't just aid the team in net, gaining an assist on Moore's goal in the first period.

Bergenheim said afterwards:

"I've played with him before, and I've seen him win games. He's such a good goalie. It's obviously great that he started out so well here. He's a good goalie, but we're gonna try to do a great job in front of him to try to make it easy for him."

Varlamov saved 35 of 38 shots, adding to the game of great goaltending on both sides.

The Lightning (26-13-5) is going to try to "stay humble" (to use Boucher's words), with the next game against the New Jersey Devils on Friday, January 14 at 7:30 PM.

Other recaps:

Capitals vs Lightning coverage [SB Nation]

Capitals vs Lightning recap [TSN]

Capitals vs Lightning boxscore [TSN]

Jaspers' Rink [SB Nation]