The Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning renewed their rivalry on Saturday night in Florida and the Caps once again came out on top.
The Washington Capitals earned their eighth win in nine games thanks to a four-goal effort in the third period en route to a 5-2 win over the Lightning. The win improves Washington’s record to 24-5-5 with 53 points, five ahead of the Boston Bruins for the top record in the NHL.
The Caps took an early 1-0 lead thanks to Nicklas Backstrom. He pounced on a turnover from Jan Rutta from behind the net as his pass was intercepted right in front of the net and Backstrom buried it home for his sixth goal of the season. The goal came at 6:42. 1-0 was the score after one with the Caps leading in shots 12-8.
After the Lightning got a power play opportunity in the second period when Backstrom shot the puck over the glass, they struck to tie the game with Brayden Point’s 12th goal of the season at 5:45. 1-1 was the score after two and the Caps were outshot 11-9 in the second.
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The Caps took the lead at 1:58 in the third with a sharp angle shot from Lars Eller in the right face-off area for his seventh goal of the season. Richard Panik had his first assist of the season while Dmitry Orlov had the secondary.
The Caps added to their lead 45 seconds later with Radko Gudas finding Brendan Leipsic, who deked a defender and backhanded a pass to a driving Garnet Hathaway. Hathaway crashed the net, literally, for the finish for his fifth goal of the season.
The Lightning got one back at 11:16 on a goal from Rutta before the Caps answered at 12:19 when T.J. Oshie cut around the net to put it past the skate of Andrei Vasilevskiy for his 14th goal of the season. Jakub Vrana and Evgeny Kuznetsov had the helpers.
At 19:21, the Caps put their stamp on this game with an empty net goal from Tom Wilson for his 12th goal of the season. Oshie and Backstrom were credited with the assists. 5-2 would go on to be the final with the Caps outshooting the Lightning 13-9 in the third period and 34-28 overall.
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Ilya Samsonov got the start in goal and the matchup against the Llightning presented a challenge for the rookie but he had a solid outing with 26 saves for a .929 save percentage for his eighth win of the season.
The Capitals will travel to Columbus to take on the Blue Jackets on Monday night. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.