Stamkos sinks Caps in OT 4-3
Too often the term "playoff-like game" gets thrown around in the NHL, but Tuesday night in Tampa Bay was not one of those oversights.
The Capitals and Lightning battled with a playoff-like feel in regular season game No. 49 for both Southeast Division clubs.
The game saw the Caps battle back from a 3-1 deficit to tie the game early in the third period before going into overtime.
After Matt Hendricks opened the scoring for the Caps with a highlight-reel spin-o-rama goal, Tampa Bay responded with three unanswered goals from Teddy Purcell, Martin St. Louis and Nate Thompson to put the Bolts up 3-1.
But Washington hung around and battled all the way back with unassisted goals from Mathieu Perreault and Troy Brouwer to earn a point on the road and force overtime.
After a furious pace in the first minutes of the overtime period, Tomas Vokoun made the save of the season for the Capitals, robbing Vincent Lecavalier of a game-winner. However, the Caps weren't able to hold up in front of their netminder, and Steven Stamkos buried a rebound home at 2:19 of overtime to give the Bolts the win at home to move to 22-23-4 on the season, eight points out of a playoff spot.
The game-winner was Stamkos' league-leading 33rd goal of the season, and his sixth of the game-winning variety.
The Caps did well to earn a point on the road during a game in which they trailed 3-1. The point puts the Caps one point free of the Florida Panthers, who were idle on the night.
Tomas Vokoun was stellar in goal for Dale Hunter's crew, turning aside 27 of 31 shots, but made big stops down the stretch and it overtime to help earn a point.
Mathieu Garon got the win for Tampa Bay, stopping 26 of 29 Capitals shots in just over 62 minutes of action.
This game had it all, momentum changes, lead changes, drama and the playoff-like intensity that the Caps and Bolts have been missing for much of the season. Washington responded like a good team should on the road and will gladly take a point out of this one.
The effort in coming from behind is something to build on going forward into the meat of the schedule, and moreso to bring to the rink tomorrow night's big clash with the Panthers in Sunrise.