Capitals 2, Lightning 3
The Washington Capitals dominated the Tampa Bay Lightning at times. But that didn't matter. The Caps had the Bolts on the ropes, outshooting them 13-0 at the start of the second period. But the Bolts found ways to score anyway. The Capitals fail to hit the century mark in standings points as they drop a tough one against the Bolts 3-2.
"There is no excuse," Bruce Boudreau said about his player's effort tonight. "[They] just got outworked."
It started well enough for the Caps. They seemed to have the legs and the jump on the Lightning. But Antero Nittymaki came up with some big saves. The Bolts took some penalties in the first and the Caps were quick to get things going. Alex Ovechkin pulled the puck out of the corner and found a perfect passing lane to Tomas Fleischmann on the far side. Flash put in the puck and the Caps looked good from there.
But the Lightning would work their way back into the game. Brandon Bochenski fired a rocket past Semyon Varlamov that gave Tampa life. It looked as if Varly wasn't square to the shooter and the puck was a perfect shot to the top corner. Then the bounces went Tampa's way.
Matt Walker scored off the face off when his shot bounced off Brooks Laich's foot and past Varly. Then a point shot hit Vincent Lecavalier in the arm and the puck bounced into the net under Varlamov. The goals happened less then four minutes apart and late in the second period.
"Once they started to believe that they could win, they won every battle and they outworked us," Bruce Boudreau said of the Lightning effort. "It's pretty simple, you don't win if you don't work hard."
They were able cut into the two goal lead when Matt Walker took a slashing penalty. The point shot was deflected by Laich and he slapped the rebound past Nittymaki. But it would not be enough as the Caps drop one to their divisional rivals. It could have been chalked up as a bit of bad luck, but not according to Boudreau.
"You make your own luck," Boudreau frowned. "Very rarely in any sport that luck is the outcome. If you are not working hard you are not going to get [bounces] in the front of the net... Did we do it enough? No, we didn't."
The Caps just didn't have the jump in the third period like they have before the Olympic break. "We certianly haven't been scoring at the clip that we did before the break," Mike Knuble said of the Caps sudden scoring woes. "I am not sure what the reason is."
The Lightning played a gritty game that seemed to keep the Capitals off sync. Most of their shots were from the outside and most were blocked, making it easy for Nittymaki. While the Caps looked to be dominating the Bolts, they looked more tired than the team the Lightning that played the night before.
"We should never lose in regulation in our own building," Joe Corvo said. "There are key moments in the game where we are scrambling in our own end. It's just costing us."
It is not too much cause for concern yet, the Capitals are 14 games away from the playoffs. But consistency and work ethic has always been an issue for the Caps. Things need to be nailed down before they even start thinking about playoff hockey.
"We didn't do the job as forwards and defensemen," Boudreau said shedding his goaltender of any fault to the loss. "We stayed out too long, we got outworked and we didn't play the way we are capable of playing and that's the reason we lost."
"If we are not going to work then, you know, it doesn't mean a whole lot," Knuble said. "You got to have the effort."