Game 58: Washington Capitals at Tampa Bay Lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning edged the Washington Capitals 2-1 in front of 19,204 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum Saturday night.

If the Lightning are not still in it to win it this season, it's awfully hard to tell from the effort put forth in their last two games.

"I always felt and still feel that that’s our trademark: fight, fight, fight; character. I feel that whenever you can dream it, you can do it. We just wanted to continue improving. Our motto keeps on being ‘get better today.’ So what it does is keeps our focus very narrow on the things we control and tonight that result isolated it for the team. Nothing before, nothing after, just one game against Washington." - head coach Guy Boucher

Tom Pyatt got things started for the Lightning at 2:10 of the first, finding himself in the right place at the right time to tap in a rebound that had landed behind Capitals netminder Tomas Vokoun. Teddy Purcell was credited with an assist on the play.

The period ended with the Lightning up 1-0.

Steven Stamkos doubled the lead, making a steal at the Lightning blue line and taking it all the way himself on a breakaway at 1:50 of the second.

Washington got on the board at 9:31 when Brooks Laich beat Mathieu Garon with assists from Mathieu Perreault and Alexander Semin.

The Lightning carried the 2-1 lead into the second intermission...and through the third period, surviving to narrow the gap between the two division foes to five points.

"That’s our plan. We want to keep going one game at a time and if we keep playing that way, we’ll reach our goal. If you look at the standings, it seems like everyone’s winning, but if we do our part, good things are going to happen...Playing these guys, they’re right ahead of us. Not giving them any points was important. Getting two points from them was huge and we battled really hard." - Garon

The Lightning will complete this four-game homestand Tuesday when they take on the Anaheim Ducks.

Game notes:

  • Stamkos' goal was his 40th of the season, making him the first player in team history to score at least 40 in three different seasons.
  • Stamkos is the fourth player in Lightning history to notch 40 in a season and this is the seventh time it's happened. Previous 40 goal seasons: Brian Bradley with 42 in 1992-93, Vincent Lecavalier with 52 in 2006-07 and 40 in 2007-08, Martin St. Louis with 43 in 2006-07 and Stamkos with 51 in 2009-10 and 45 in 2010-11.
  • Word that the long-discussed Kubina trade had been completed came across just before the game started, with the defenseman headed to Philadelphia for two draft picks. Just after the game ended, the team modified and confirmed it: the Lightning have acquired Florida’s second-round pick in either 2012 or 2013 (previously acquired, Florida’s choice), a fourth-round pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft and left wing Jon Kalinski from the Flyers in exchange for Kubina. Kalinski will be assigned to Norfolk.
  • The Lightning honored Scotty Crocker as a Lightning Community Hero during the first period of tonight’s game against the Washington Capitals. Crocker, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will divide the money among his charities of choice, the McDonald’s Training Center and Meals on Wheels of Tampa. Despite suffering from Cerebral Palsy that has him confined to a wheelchair, Crocker never passes up an opportunity to help others in the community. Through a program at the McDonald’s Training Center, he became involved with Meals on Wheels of Tampa, an initiative that allows him to deliver fresh meals to community members who are homebound. Crocker does not allow his disability to prevent him from caring for others, as his service empowers people to live the lives they choose with no regard to physical impairment. Crocker developed his giving spirit from his mother, Norma, a 78-year-old single parent who became a widow when her son was just 17 years old. Every day presents a challenge as Crocker wakes up, gets dressed and prepares himself for work all with the help of his mother, who often times must wheel her son out of the house through dirt and mud just to get into the shuttle that transports Crocker to work each day. Despite these hardships, Crocker always remains enthusiastic in knowing that his efforts will help others who are currently facing more dire situations than his own.