When players other than the usual suspects are scoring, maybe the Washington Capitals really have turned the corner.
That’s what happened Thursday night on a road trip to face the Tampa Bay Lightning. Eric Fehr scored twice, Jay Beagle added his first of the year, and the Caps held off a late rally from the Bolts to extend their winning streak to three games with a 4-3 victory at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Fehr seems to be finding his groove in his second stint in Washington, and his goals helped stake his team to a 3-1 third period lead. A great hustle play by Joel Ward helped set up Fehr for his second goal of the season off a feed from Mathieu Perreault at 5:09 of the second period. Then Fehr blew a slap shot by Tampa goalie Mathieu Garon while streaking down the right side at 2:22 of the third.
A chaotic goal mouth scramble with 12:31 left in the game ended with Beagle scoring while flat on the ice to make it 4-1 Capitals. That turned into an important goal when the Lightning nearly pulled off their second straight three-goal final period comeback.
First it was Teddy Purcell taking advantage of a bad bounce through the Washington crease to make it 4-2. A diving play by Martin St. Louis sent Nate Thompson in on a breakaway, and the Lightning forward was able to evade a wild charge from Capitals goalie Braden Holtby to slide the puck into a wide open net with 3:13 to play. The Lightning pulled Garon with about a minute to go, but Beagle was strong on the final few defensive zone draws, and the Caps were able to seal up the win.
St. Louis also scored a goal and Garon made 35 saves for the Lightning, whose losing streak reached six games. Troy Brouwer opened the scoring for the Caps with a first period power play goal, and Perreault ended up with three assists on the night. Holtby’s 27 stops included an impressive glove save on both Purcell and Stamkos.
So far, so good on the current three-game road trip for the Capitals, who still have to travel to Madison Square Garden for a Sunday showdown with the New York Rangers. Three home games await after that, but against the division leading New Jersey Devils and Carolina Hurricanes.
The game was over when…
The final buzzer sounded, really. The Caps had some defensive breakdowns (a recurring theme even during the winning streak) earlier in the game that required Holtby to bail them out. But when Holtby looked a little shakier late in the game, the skaters took care of business, and the Lightning had no truly threatening chances with the goalie pulled.
The unsung Capitals hero was…
Karl Alzner for paying the price in several ways. He dove to break up a good scoring chance in the second period, then blocked a wicked slap shot with his chest in the third. Thanks for your effort, and enjoy your time in the training room to nurse those bruises.