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Tampa Bay Lightning Game 54: at the Washington Capitals

The Tampa Bay Lightning lost to the Washington Capitals 3-2.

Much was made about this game, since the last time these two teams met there was some ugliness. Steve Downie matching up with Alex Ovechkin for a fight – only to have Matt Bradley fly in and take Downie instead – sort of sticks in everyone’s minds, for some reason. So either this game was going to be more of the same, or it was going to be played very conservatively.

Well, this game was another snoozer. The Lightning managed to stay with the Caps for most of the game, and while there was a lot of back and forth play going on, there really wasn’t much actual action. Much of the game was also played in the Lightning’s end, which made it a little hard for them to score.

For some inexplicable reason, Mike Smith got the start. Antero Niittymaki had been playing very well for much of the past eight games since Smith suffered a neck strain. Niittymaki, logically, should’ve been the starter for this game against the Eastern Conference’s best team. But he wasn’t.

Which isn’t to say that Smith played poorly, but he was definitely not at his best. His defensemen helped him out a lot more than usual. He didn’t look very sharp at all, and at times looked a little lost. Still, he helped manage to keep the Caps to only three goals, a feat which many teams have trouble doing.

The Lightning seem to have this talent for playing only as well as the team their playing against. They just can’t quite push past that and play better than the team they’re playing against. Although, they have no problem playing worse than their opponent from time to time. Tampa Bay could’ve won against the Caps had they been able to pull themselves together enough to be better.

Mike Lundin had a very good game. He’s not really talked about much, but he quietly puts together some very good games. Yesterday’s was one. Six blocked shots, for instance, is quite a feat.

Martin St. Louis had a good game. As did his linemate, Steven Stamkos. Each of them had five shots on goal each. Although, Stamkos was dismal in the faceoff circle, only winning 11% of his draws.

The next game is at the Atlanta Thrashers on Tuesday, 2 February. Game time is 7 pm Eastern.

Lightning vs Capitals coverage [SB Nation]

Japers’ Rink [SB Nation Washington Capitals site]

Lightning vs Capitals recap [TSN]

Lightning vs Capitals boxscore [TSN]

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