Washington Capitals Rally but Fall to Lightning in Overtime

The Washington Capitals fell in overtime to. the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-4. That was a very entertaining game.

The Washington Capitals came close to exacting revenge from Saturday’s loss but in the end, the Lightning came away with the win. This was a complete offensive shootout. If you loved high-scoring contests, this was the game for you. The best part? They meet again on March 30th!

The Lightning didn’t really have anything to play for after clinching the Presidents’ Trophy unless they still have that chip on their shoulder from their Eastern Conference Finals loss last season to the boys in red. It is certainly one of the most underrated rivalries in the NHL. These two did have playoff history and even division rivalry history, but now the rivalry is renewed to new heights with these two as the best teams in the Eastern Conference.

We noted in our game preview that a fast start for the Capitals would be a key. They did exactly that. At 7:32, Carl Hagelin pounced on a turnover, set up Lars Eller. Eller glided ahead of the defense and put it past Andrei Vasilevskiy for his 12th goal of the season and bring the sellout crowd to their feet.

The Capitals charging out of the gate was a part of having still plenty to play for. There is a tight race in the Metropolitan Division and the way they play down the stretch determines not only how they’ll finish but who they’ll possibly play. The Capitals had a great first period outshooting the Lightning 15-5.

The first period featured three penalties, two on Tampa Bay and one on Washington. The Capitals’ penalty came with 33 seconds left in the first with Tom Wilson called for holding Victor Hedman. Though Wilson kind of looked like he was just grabbing onto him as they were falling. That would foreshadow a charge in the second period from the Lightning.

They first struck with a goal from Nikita Kucherov in the first 79 seconds. Then at 2:08, the Lightning got another power play when Alex Ovechkin elbowed Ryan McDonagh. Literally four seconds later after the face-off, Steven Stamkos put the Lightning in front 2-1. Anthony Cirelli struck at 6:45 to give Tampa Bay a 3-1 edge.

The Capitals pulled within one when Eller found Hagelin with a cross-pass to him to set him up for the quick snipe to pull the Capitals to within 3-2. It’s Hagelin’s fifth goal of the season. Once again the third line continues to work their magic.

Then the Capitals almost immediately got their own power play 12 minutes in when Mikhail Sergachev was called for slashing Brett Connolly. Then at 13:40, Ovechkin fed a charging T.J. Oshie the puck. Oshie couldn’t corral it at first but banged in the rebound for his 22nd of the year. New game tied at three.

The Lightning got their turn back at the power play when Dmitry Orlov was called for slashing Tyler Johnson. The Lightning went back in front 3-2 with Kucherov’s second goal of the game and 37th of the season.

Then came the fireworks. Jakub Vrana took part in his first NHL fight. He went up against Yanni Gourde. There was a little blood on Vrana’s face but he seemed fine. Michal Kempny hurt himself after Cedric Paquette grabbed him and the two fell down near the boards. Kempny hit the boards. There were also a good number of occupants in both penalty boxes.

Kempny did not return and was diagnosed with a lower-body injury. Coach Todd Reirden said that Kempny will “miss some time.” The Team will have a better update in a couple days.

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The Lightning took the lead  at 15:01 with Kucherov’s second goal of the game and 37th goal of the season. They would take that 4-3 lead into the second intermission. The Capitals outshot the Lightning in the second 22-11.

The Capitals kept fight and shooting the puck in the third period. This was their best game shooting wise. It’s like they  were listening to fans screaming, “Shoot it!”, a common practice at Capitals games. Late in the contest, Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby was pulled for an extra attacker. With 53 seconds to go, Evgeny Kuznetsov tied the game to join the 20-goal club. The Capitals now have six players with 20 goals this season.

The Capitals and Lightning headed to overtime tied at four. The Capitals outshot the Lightning 19-10 in the third. The Lightning would win it in overtime with a goal from Hedman at 3:01. Final 5-4.

The Capitals outshot the Lightning 58-28. Their 58 shots set a franchise record for most shots in a game. Braden Holtby stopped 23 of the 28 shots he faced for an .821 save percentage in the loss.

The Capitals will look to bounce back as they host the Minnesota Wild on Friday night.