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Capitals vs. Lightning Recap: Washington Wins In Statement Victory over Bolts

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Devante Smith-Pelly and Philipp Grubauer led Washington to a 3 to 1 victory over the league leading Lightning.

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Washington Capitals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Capitals entered tonight’s tilt against Tampa Bay after a solid 5 to 2 home ice win over the Ottawa Senators. In town was a much more dangerous Lightning lineup so Washington needed a sixty minute effort with no passengers, and that’s exactly what they got on their way to an impressive 3 to 1 win.

Here’s Friday night's Plus/Minus:

Plus: Facing another set of back-to-back games this weekend Barry Trotz elected to start Philipp Grubauer in the first of two contests (the first time this year). Grubauer rewarded that confidence with a spectacular 25 save outing for his first win of the season.

Minus: Washington gave Tampa Bay’s man advantage team an early opportunity (Brooks Orpik 44 seconds in) and, as you’d expect, they tallied.

Nine more notes on the game.

  1. An early Nikita Kucherov power play shot deflected off of Vladislav Namestnikov left of the crease and over Grubauer for a quick Lightning lead. Kucherov and Victor Hedman tallied the assists.
  2. Alex Ovechkin led two first period odd-man-rushes against Andrei Vasilevskiy, electing to dish passes to Nicklas Backstrom (on the first) and Tom Wilson (on the second) without success. While hindsight is 20/20, you have to like Ovechkin’s chance with his shot on either opportunity.
  3. But with a little over a minute to play in the first frame Ovechkin hammered home a nice passing play between linemates Backstrom and Wilson to knot the contest at one. Excellent defensive play from Wilson started the scoring play in Washington’s zone before the rugged winger fed Ovechkin for his 15th of the year.
  4. And late in the second period Devante Smith-Pelly put Washington ahead for the first time by depositing his 3rd of the season (all at even strength) at 34:36. Smith-Pelly drove to the crease and picked up a Jay Beagle rebound on his forehand to light the lamp behind Vasilevskiy.
  5. Through forty minutes of play Washington held a 30-16 shot advantage over Tampa Bay, successfully containing the league’s top scoring team early and often.
  6. The Capitals would contain Tampa Bay through the game’s final frame to capture two points. Evgeny Kuznetsov took the only two penalties of the third but Washington’s defense successfully kept the Lightning at bay.
  7. Beagle would ice the contest with 2:08 to play with beautiful backhanded sauce from a step inside the blue line.
  8. Ovechkin paced all skaters with nine shots on goal.
  9. Washington extended their dominance of Tampa Bay through their past twelve meetings to 11-0-1.

The Capitals will travel to Toronto tonight to faceoff against the Maple Leafs tomorrow at 7PM.