Capitals 5, Lightning 2
Scoresheet - Times - Post - St. Pete Times
The Tampa Bay Lightning are no where close to a playoff spot, but their play and their intensity was hard to deny. The Capitals had to be patient against a team that had not been beaten in regulation in their last four games. It was a tight checking, push and shove kind of game, but the Caps break it open in the third period scoring three unanswered goals.
Mike Green had a great night, taking home the game's first star with two goals including the game winner in the third period. But Steven Stamkos pulled the defenseman down late in the third and Green seemed to injure his left shoulder. Although he claimed he was fine after the game, Green was down on the ice for some time before skating gingerly to the bench in obvious pain.
Alex Ovechkin scored his 50th goal of the season and following the goal he laid his stick down on the ice and waved his hands at the "hot" stick. Although it might have been funny to see, most of the 16,000 plus crowd, Lightning coach Rick Tocchet and even Ovi's head coach Bruce Boudreau were not very amused.
"I haven't said anything yet," Boudreau told reporters during his post game conference. "It was his 50th, so maybe he was thinking of something special, I don't know. He's never done that with me that I've seen. I personally don't like it as much."
Tocchet weighed in on the celebration. "I grew up in the old days in the Spectrum where in the first period, after that happened, it might have been a three hour first period. It's not something I like. It's hard for me to see that in our building." [Editor's note: What he means by a "three-hour first period" is there would have been a lot of fights]
Ovi tried to get Green and line mate Nick Backstrom in on the act, but both just let Ovechkin do the celebration on his own. "He told me was going to do it," Green said. "He wanted me to join in, but there was no way I would join in on that. I just kind of stood back and let him do what he does. I think it's great. Fifty goals, that's incredible."
Ovechkin finished the night with a goal, two assists and a +2.
Micheal Nylander and Matt Bradley also scored to help solidify the win at St. Pete Times Forum. Viktor Kozlov got the play maker (3 assists). Eric Fehr thought he had a goal and after looking at the replay it did look like the puck had crossed the line. But the Referee's deemed the play dead even though the puck was over the goal line.
Puckhead's player of the game has to be Kozlov with his three assists. He has been ramping up his play of late and the last two games have been his best by far this season.
Boyd Gordon suffered a broken finger in the Florida game and the Caps recalled Quintin Laing. He had to clear waivers to make it to the big club which he did. Laing blocked a shot and was instrumental in Bradley's goal, even though he wasn't on the scoresheet.
John Erskine was a healthy scratch for Brian Pothier who had a better second half of the game rather than the first half. Pothier is going to be just fine, it looks like his thought process needs to speed up some (i.e. what to do with the puck once he gets it).
Simeon Varlamov played well. His biggest save of the night had to have been on Milan Jurcina, his own team mate. Jurcina poked checked the puck from a Lightning forward and then as he was falling to his knees shot a back hander right on net. He was trying to keep the other forward from getting the puck. Varlamov made the save and is owed a steak dinner on behalf of one Jurcina. Three starts and three wins for Varlamov for his NHL resume.
I am not sure if it was the ice surface, but the puck was pretty lively all game long. Plenty of passes did not find their targets and the puck just did not want to settle down for anybody.
Once the Capitals took the lead in the third, they started to look like themselves again. They will stay in Tampa overnight and may practice at the St. Pete Times Forum before they head to Carolina. The Caps are looking to finish the season on a high note, but also healthy. The Green scare may keep him from the lineup on Saturday night, but that is a decision that will happen closer to game time.