TAMPA BAY TIMES FORUM, TAMPA, FL. – Steven Stamkos scored twice in the final 1:03 to power the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 4-2 win over the Washington Capitals Monday night. Stammer added an assist for a three point night.
With 1:03 to play in regulation and the game tied 2-2, Brett Clark let a shot go from just inside the blue line that Michal Neuvirth stopped, but the puck came right to Stamkos in the crease and he fired it in for his NHL leading 57th goal of the year and a 3-1 Lightning lead. At 19:59 he added his 58th of the year into the empty net with Neuvirth on the bench in favor of the extra attacker.
An uneventful opening period saw Washington out shoot the Lighting 7-5. Tampa Bay failed to convert on two powerplay opportunities while the Capitals could not convert on their man advantage either.
Things started to open up a little bit early in the second period and it got physical when Ryan Malone dropped Jason Chimera with a solid hit. Chimera got up and went right after Malone who was more than happy to drop the gloves. Malone landed a solid left hand that stunned the Capitals left wing and he went right down. Malone showed some class when he let up and backed away. He could have easily got a few more shots in but showed the classy player he is by backing away.
The Capitals jumped in front when Alexander Semin finished off a good Washington forecheck at 12:47. The Caps would not let the Lightning grab control of the puck and it ended up on the stick of Mathieu Perreault. He fed Semin at the top of the right circle for a one timer for his 20th goal of the season.
But just three minutes later the Lightning took the lead with two goals in 25 seconds. Teddy Purcell tied it up with a power play goal at 17:21 when Steven Stamkos fed him at the top of the left circle and he beat Michal Neuvirth low between the pads. It was Purcell’s 21st goal of the year. Right off the ensuing face off the Lightning took control in the Caps zone again. With Tom Pyatt screening Neuvirth, Victor Hedman fired a blast from the blue line that found the back of the net at 17:45 for his 5th tally of the season and a 2-1 Tampa Bay lead.
At 16:43 Washington tied the game when Jason Chimera backhanded a rebound past Dwayne Roloson for his 20th goal of the season. Alexander Semin wristed a shot toward the net that Roloson got a piece of but he could not get back to the other side of the net in time to make the stop.
The Capitals lost a chance to gain ground on the idle Buffalo Sabres and still only have a two point lead for the 8th and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Washington has two games remaining and Buffalo has three.
The Lightning begin the final road trip of the season on Wednesday night at the Bell Centre in Montreal against the Canadiens. The puck will drop at 7:30pm.
NOTES: The Lightning are 37-35-7 for 81 points…..The Bolts are 25-14-2 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum…..Steven Stamkos has 8 goals in his last 6 games…..Victor Hedman was sporting a blackened left eye courtesy of the Winnipeg Jets’ Andrew Ladd Saturday night…..Shots on goal was 33-27 Capitals…..The Caps were 0-2 on the power play while the Lightning were 1-4…..The game was a sellout with 19,204 fans in attendance for the final home game of the year for Tampa Bay.
Ray Blanchette covers the Tampa Bay Lightning for Outside The Redzone. He also covers NCAA football for the Saturday Blitz. Follow along at www.saturdayblitz.com. Blanchette is the owner of Blanchette Sports Holdings, a new sporting company that will operate 8 different sports leagues. Follow along with them at www.blanchettesportsholdings.weebly.com or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=100003521034703&sk=wall or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/BlanchettSports