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The Capitals entered tonight's contest in Tampa Bay coming off of back to back pointless contests and looked to right their course against a Lightning team that sits two points behind the Eastern Conference leading Montreal Canadiens. Washington poured 38 shots on net against Ben Bishop but couldn't convert late in the third period, falling to their hosts 4 to 3. Braden Holtby wasn't as sharp as Bishop and the Capitals' shooters weren't as crisp as Tampa Bay's. The loss is Washington's third consecutive regulation defeat.
Ten more notes on the game:
- Ryan Callahan opened the scoring a little more than six minutes into the game, returning to Tampa Bay's lineup after missing their past five games. A nice shot/pass from former Rangers teammate Brian Boyle allowed Callahan to redirect the puck, deftly, through Holtby's five-hole. The stick sorcery caught Hotlby by surprise and beat the clicking of Braden's heels by an inch.
- Early in the game saw Brooks Oprik finish a check on Vladislav Namestnikov right as the latter was turning into the wall, four feet from the dasher board. The ugly result earned Orpik four minutes in the penalty box (Boarding and Roughing infractions) but I'm not sure they were correct. It looked like Wes McCauley and Mark Lemelin tagged Orpik for the original two solely based on the play's outcome.
- Tom Wilson earned his first penalty minutes of the NHL season immediately after serving Orpik's extra minor, leaving the penalty box, a joining a rush with Eric Fehr. A collision with Bishop ended up with Wilson laying on top of a bleeding Radko Gudas (who would don a cage for the rest of the night). Wilson was full of energy during his limited (7:20) ice time.
- Alex Ovechkin returned to the scoresheet with a tremendous first period assist, ending his career long five game pointless streak. After out skating Jason Garrison on a partial breakaway and putting a shot on net, Marcus Johansson drove the net hard and picked up the rebound. He put the puck between the goaltender and left post and tied the game at one.
- Despite getting outplayed through the second period's first two minutes Fehr responded for Washington 11 seconds later, putting his first goal of the year behind Bishop off an odd rebound from the end boards. A smart backhanded touch from Jason Chimera below the goal line allowed Fehr two shot attempts against Bishop, Fehr putting a well placed puck into the net from a tight angle on his second try.
- Ondrej Palat would tie the game for the second time eight minutes later, his goal courtesy of Nikita Kucherov's sneaky pass delivery. With Holtby tracking Kucherov behind the net to his right the Lightning forward dished the puck to Holtby's left side onto the stick of Palat. With Karl Alzner and Matt Niskanen trying to play catch up Palat didn't miss the opportunity, Holtby still looking over his right shoulder.
- Kucherov wasn't only a dish man tonight, however, as he tipped an Eric Brewer shot past Holtby from in front of the net 163 seconds after Palat's tally. After a dandy forecheck from Evgeny Kuznetsov to negate a Capitals icing infraction Tampa Bay walked the puck two hundred feet and took back the game's lead in the blink of an eye.
- But Troy Brouwer would answer for the Capitals before the middle frame was over, tying the game for the third and final time. He received a Johansson saucer pass in the slot and fired a one-timed shot past Bishop's blocker pad at the forty minute mark. Brouwer's third of the season would give Johansson his first two point game of the year and his first game with both a goal and an assist since a December 15th, 2013 game against Philadelphia. So far the young Swede has been much improved under the guidance of Barry Trotz.
- Garrison would give Tampa Bay a lead they would not relinquish early in the third period with a low wrist shot that skipped in off of Nicklas Backstrom's skate. Holtby had traffic to fight through and couldn't catch the puck before it ricocheted between his legs, Garrison's second of the season sealing the Capitals' fate.
- One major positive to take away from tonight was the play of Fehr. He responded after Trotz's healthy scratch on Wednesday night, only skating 14 minutes but pacing Washington (alongside Ovechkin) with six shots on goal. Fehr was one of the Capitals' better forwards and he will continue to contribute as long as he can sustain his high compete level seen tonight.
Washington has only picked up two standings points in their past five games, a trend that needs to be stopped immediately. They fly home to the District tonight and will practice tomorrow morning in advance of
Boyd Gordon Martin Erat and