The Washington capitals came into the St. Pete Times Forum a desperate hockey team last evening. They played like one in soundly beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2, snapping the Bolts six game winning streak in the process.
Tampa, in losing for just the fifth time at home this season, was outplayed for the entire hockey game. Lightning head coach Guy Boucher thought so as well, “”There was absolutely no urgency in our game,” Boucher said.”We weren’t scared of them. There was no fear, and that’s a lack of respect for an opponent.”
In what seemed a passing concern in the Bolts 4-0 shutout over the Flyers on Tuesday night became a reality on Friday night. In Tuesdays win the Lightning were soundly outshot 38-26 but still managed to keep the Flyers off the board.
Last night the Bolts were again outshot, this time 36-25, and Washington took adavnatge of the extra shots as the Flyers did not.
The game started well for Tampa as Teddy Purcell continued his hot streak of late. Purcell beat Capitals goaltender Semyon Varlamov just 3:21 into the game, a shot Varlamov should have had.
Purcell’s goal was his fourth in the last three games. Simon Gagne picked up the primary assist and continued his hot streak as well. Gagne assisted on both Tampa goals last night, recording his seventh point in the last four games.
The lead lasted for just six minutes as Nicklas Backstrom scored just his second goal in the last 26 games. The goal was originally credited to Alex Ovechkin but changed to Backstrom during the first intermission.
It was the Caps’ first goal in 139 minutes and 22 seconds against the Lightning, and their first in three games against Dwayne Roloson.
The goal also ended Rolson’s current shutout streak of 124 minutes and 03 seconds. Roloson last surrendered a goal on Jan. 23, a 7-1 win against Atlanta.
The teams would head to the locker rooms tied at one but were agitated with each other. There were 30 minutes of penalties called, two fights, and even a roughing minor called on Bolts goalie Dwayne Roloson. Rolson roughed up the caps Matt Hendricks with a few catching glove shots to the face after Hendricks, with no help, knocked Roloson down from behind.
The Lightning after being outshot 11-5 in the first came out and played a little better offensively, matching Washington with ten-second period shots, but the Caps were more opportunistic with their chances. Washington took the lead when Brooks Laich scored just his third goal in 20 games beating Roloson with a beautiful backhand shot.
The goal gave Washington a lead they would not relinquish, as the Caps would score three of the games next four goals. Alex Ovechkin would score a power play goal for Washington less than two minutes later to give the Capitals a two-goal lead.
The goal was number 20 for Ovechkin, marking the fifth straight season he has scored at least 20 goals. The goal was also just the eleventh time in the last 95 chances the Caps have converted with the extra man. Tampa Bay would convert a power play of their own. With just 40 seconds remaining in the second period Brett Clark tipped in a Teddy Purcell shot to cut the lead to 3-2.
Purcell’s assist was his ninth point in his last four games. Clark’s eighth of the season was his first in 20 games for Tampa Bay.
The Capitals are 19-0-2 on the season when leading after two periods and Nick Backstrom made sure that one goal was as close as the Bolts would get. Backstrom scored his second of the night when he knocked back an Ovechkin shot that Roloson failed to control.
Backstrom and Ovechkin had four points each last evening. Backstrom scored two goals for the first time since early December and Ovechkin notched three assists. The four-point game was Ovechkin’s first since Super Bowl Sunday last season in a come from behind win over the Penguins.
Jason Chimera finished off the Bolts with an empty net goal to close out the scoring. The Capitals came into the game as one of the better defensive teams in the league last night. After last night, the Caps have surrendered just two goals or less in 13 of their last 20 games.
The Capitals played their trapping style to almost perfection last night bottling up Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos. The two combined for just three shots on the night. They dominated every phase of the game and the face-offs stats were no exception. The Caps won 41 of 68 puck drop opportunities.
Offensively the Caps scored five goals for the first time since December-21 but added a new wrinkle last evening and one that seemed to frustrate the Bolts and their fans.
Washington in an effort to break Tampa’s 1-3-1 neutral zone defense, simply stood in their own zone and held the puck. Trailing in the game, Tampa was forced to chase every time the Caps stood still. The fans booed Washington’s attempt at a Dean Smith Four Corners style of hockey and Steven Stamkos had this to say about the game plan.
“I don’t know if it was kind of a mockery of our system or a game plan, but they obviously had a couple days to prepare for the game and then that’s what they thought best,” Tampa Bay center Steven Stamkos said. “It killed some time, so I guess it was successful that way. Obviously, a first for us seeing a team try that.”
The Capitals remained patient with the plan and never wavered. Caps head coach Bruce Boudreau said, ““We had a chance (to practice as a team for an extended period) for the first time in a long time, and we just focused in practice on beating Tampa. That was what our whole focus was. It wasn’t about doing different things and how we did it. It was about going over a lot of video on them”.
The Lightning is now 3-1 on their current 12- game home stand and now 11-3-0 in their last 14 at the Times Forum. Tampa lost for just the second time to a divisional opponent in their last ten Southeast division games.
The Lightning are not going to win every game but Guy Boucher Should be concerned, at least mildly, with how the Lightning play following a big game. They were blown out in the games following both Washington wins in January and last night were thoroughly outplayed following the big win over Philly on Tuesday.
Expect the Bolts to play a better game on Sunday as Lightning head coach Guy Boucher all but guaranteed they would. Boucher said following the game, “”We lacked respect for our fans in the first period,” he said. “That is not going to happen on Sunday.”
The Lightning hosts the Saint Louis Blues on Sunday at 3:00p.m.