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Capitals vs. Lightning Recap: Caps Light up Lightning

John Carlson’s return bodes well for Caps in huge offensive output

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Washington Capitals Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

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The Capitals extremely tough run of games isn’t slowing down anytime soon as they hosted the always deadly Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday night. There was some good news for the game as John Carlson made a return after a six game absence. For a team lacking so much offensive talent, getting him back was a huge jolt. And he came through when the Caps won big 5-1.

Plus: Anthony Mantha has been the talk of the town lately with his lack of production but he broke through with a goal and primary assist. Caps really need to get him going (which they should do by playing him with better players but alas).

Minus: The Nicolas Aubé-Kubel was particularly nasty. The hope is Cal Foots is okay.

Other Notes:

-The fourth line was tasked with going up arguably the hottest line in the NHL of Hagel-Point-Kucherov. It was actually the Caps fourth line with the first great chance when Nic Dowd had a point blank chance that went wide.

-The Caps were the better team in the first five minutes with three good scoring chances but couldn’t convert on any of them. It’s good to see but also concerning since they started the same way against Pittsburgh but after not able to score the Penguins gained all the momentum and went with it.

-Kucherov, who is on a 11 game point streak, got a breakaway with a lot of space and Darcy Kuemper came up with not one but two huge saves. It’s something he desperately needed after the poor outing against Pittsburgh last game.

-The Caps were the first to strike and it came from a player that needed it most in Anthony Mantha. Mantha parked next to the net before Lars Eller made a sweet pass from the wall right to Mantha who put it home. Mantha hasn’t been producing much lately but he also hasn’t been playing with top talent so any points he can grab is a plus.

-The Lightning received the first power play of the night. They came awfully close a couple times but Caps penalty killers came up with some crucial blocks. With nine seconds left in the Lightning power play they took a penalty, give the Caps their first power play of the night. They also had a handful of chances but weren’t able to light the lamp.

-Not even two minutes into the second period, Nicolas Aubé-Kubel made an unwise decision decking Cal Foote with a shoulder to head hit. He will definitely be suspended for that. It was rightfully deemed a major and the Caps went on five minute penalty kill. Even worse was Hathaway got in a fight with Maroon at center ice as the refs were going over the hit putting Hathaway in the box for a full five minutes when he’s one of the top penalty killers for the Caps. Wait there’s more, it was also the period of the long change! But...

-Somehow, not only did the Caps kill the full five minute penalty, they arguably had more scoring chances than Tampa did. And to top it all off, Milano coming out of the box for serving the match penalty for Kubel, got a breakaway and scored, giving the Caps a 2-0 lead.

-The Lightning had their best shift of the period and Kuemper came up big. Shortly after, big boy Alexei Protas got a pot in goal after he screened Andrei Vasilevskiy and slid in a rebound to give the Caps a 3-0 lead.

-Caps got a power play with four minutes left. They had some great looks again but were unable to extend their lead.

-The Caps started the period on the power play and even had another shortly after but were unable to score.

-Good thing the Caps upped their lead to 4-0 after a slick pass from Mantha to Sheary who went in on the breakaway and sniped it top corner.

-After that a bunch of penalties went back and forth with no team scoring. Eventually the Lightning’s 4th line broke through on a terrible goal by Kuemper to give up but he made so many other good ones and it wasn’t a game changer so it’s okay. Still it ended his shutout with 8 minutes to go.

-Towards the end Milano got a lucky goal but well deserved for how well he’s played. It put the Caps up 5-1.