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Game Recap

Postgame Notebook: Capitals 5, Lightning 4

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 5:15 AM

Mike Vogel  - WashingtonCaps.com Senior Writer

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Postgame Notebook: Capitals 5, Lightning 4
Tampa Bay Lightning 4, Washington Capitals 5
Photo Gallery:  WSH 5, TB 4
Video:  Game Highlights 
Video:  Boudreau 
Video:  Caps Locker Room
Video: Tocchet
Quotes: Postgame Quotes
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Dirty Dozen – Tonight’s 5-4 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning won’t earn the Washington Capitals any style points, but the Caps will happily pocket the pair of standings points they earned and move on. The win was Washington’s 12th straight on home ice, extending a franchise record.

Playing their second game in as many nights after a 3-1 road win in Buffalo on Wednesday, and integrating three new faces into the lineup, the Caps drew first blood but had trouble holding the Bolts at bay.

The Caps got one in the first, two in the second and two in the third on their way to winning for the third time in four meetings with the Lightning this season. Washington is now 14-2 against Southeast Division opponents this season.

Washington took a tenuous 3-2 lead into the second after killing off a lengthy sequence of successive penalties late in the middle frame, thanks to a pair of heroic shot blocks from Nicklas Backstrom, who laid his body on the line after his stick broke.

“I don’t know how many other superstars in the league would be doing that on a [4-on-3],” says Caps coach Bruce Boudreau. “That’s what makes him special. It was definitely a turning point.”

Tampa Bay scored twice in the third to pull even at 4-4, but Scott Walker’s second goal of this game in his Capitals debut sealed it for the home team.

The Caps are now 24-3-3 on Verizon Center ice. They own the best home record in the league and have not lost in the District in calendar 2010. The Caps’ last loss of any kind at Verizon Center was a 6-3 defeat at the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes on Dec. 28 of last year.

New Kids – The Capitals welcomed three new players into the lineup as forwards Scott Walker and Eric Belanger and defenseman Joe Corvo made their Capitals debuts in front of the home folks.

Walker made the biggest splash, scoring a pair of third-period goals, including the game-winner. For Walker, it was his first two-goal game in more than three years. He laid a pair of tallies on Pittsburgh on March 2, 2007. His game-winner tonight was his first in the regular season since he notched an overtime tally vs. Buffalo on March 8, 2008.

Walker was plus-2 with three hits in 7:33 of work.

“I think he’d only had about 4:00 of ice time after the first two periods so I wanted to get him out there a little more in his first game,” says Boudreau. “But he had to sit with all the penalties. His history has been right place at the right time or the right hit. Sometimes you look around the league at the trades and guys that are scoring in their first game {are} big game players.”

Belanger won five of 12 draws (42%) and was plus-1 in 14:50 on the night.

Corvo skated 20:19 and blocked three shots, including a key blunt of a Steven Stamkos one-timer attempt on a Tampa Bay power play.

Net Gain – Semyon Varlamov stopped 25 of the 29 shots he faced to earn his 13th win of the season (13-2-2) and his first since he blanked the Lightning in Tampa on Dec. 7.

Tonight’s triumph was Varlamov’s first at home since Dec. 3. He is now 8-0 on Verizon Center ice this season.

“He looked like he was moving fine,” says Boudreau of his rookie netminder. “There was nothing he could do on the first one [Tampa Bay goal]. The bottom line is: You gotta win. When you have to make that big save at the end you do it and Varly’s one of those guys that does it.”

77 – Corvo is just the second Capital ever to don a sweater with uniform No. 77. The first – center Adam Oates – is now an assistant coach with the Lightning. Along with head coach Rick Tocchet and fellow assistant Jim Johnson, Oates is one of three ex-Caps serving on the Lightning’s staff.

Green Going – With a pair of assists on the night, Caps defenseman Mike Green now has a point in each of the last nine games in which he has played (three goals, 10 assists). He has picked up a point in six straight games since serving an NHL suspension. He leads all NHL blueliners with 15 goals, 48 assists and 63 points. His plus-31 is second only to teammate Jeff Schultz’s plus-39 among all NHL rearguards.

Five Straight – Ovechkin now has 90 or more points in each of his five NHL seasons and is the only player in the league who has notched 90 or more every season since the lockout. Ovechkin also stopped a two-game blip during which he had not had a point, just his second such speed bump this season. You’ve got to go back more than a calendar year to find the last time he failed to record a point in as many as three straight games.

Missed It By That Much – Ovechkin has three goals on 19 shots on goal in four games against the Lightning this season, but Bolts defenders have also blocked 22 of his shots and he has missed on another dozen occasions. In his last three games against the Lightning, Ovechkin has one goal in a dozen shots on goal, 21 that were blocked and 10 misses.

Two For 22 – Mike Knuble is going to get the papers, get the papers. The veteran Caps winger had a pair of goals tonight, his fifth two-goal game since Jan. 9. Only 10 players in the entire league have more two-goal tilts all season.

Fresh Charge – The Caps weren’t the only team to debut a fresh face on Thursday. The Lightning traded ex-Cap (and local boy) Jeff Halpern to Los Angeles on Wednesday for Teddy Purcell and a third-round pick. Purcell sported sweater No. 16 in his maiden voyage as a member of the Lightning, skating with Ryan Malone and Vincent Lecavalier.

Purcell skated 14:44 on the night, and got some second-unit power play time. He was minus-2 but did record an assist, springing Lecavalier on a breakaway that resulted in the big center’s second goal of the game.

Lightning Strikes – Tampa Bay struck for a pair of power play tallies on Thursday against the Caps. The Lightning is now 7-for-17 (41.7%) with the extra man against Washington this season.

Five Spots – The Lightning has now lost five straight games and has allowed five or more goals in each of those losses. As bad as the Lightning was throughout much of its early history, this marks the first time in franchise history that the Bolts have surrendered five or more goals in as many as five straight games.

By The Numbers – John Carlson led the way for the Caps with four blocked shots … Brendan Morrison (3-for-13, 23%) had a tough night in the face-off circle, but Boyd Gordon (12-for-14, 86%) made up for it … Ovechkin had three shots on goal in the game. He also had five bids blocked and missed with three other tries … Tampa Bay’s Matt Smaby accounted for four of his team’s nine first-period hits. He took nine shifts in the first and three in the second before being benched for the remainder of the game … The Lightning’s Mike Lundin blocked seven shots on the night … Stamkos led all members of the Lightning with 23:51 in ice time on Thursday.

scoring summary
1st Period
Eric Fehr (16) ASST: NONE
1 - 0 WSH
PPG - Steve Downie (16) ASST: Kurtis Foster (22), Martin St. Louis (51)
1 - 1 Tie
2nd Period
Mike Knuble (24) ASST: Brooks Laich (27), Brendan Morrison (24)
2 - 1 WSH
Mike Knuble (25) ASST: Nicklas Backstrom (51), Alex Ovechkin (48)
3 - 1 WSH
PPG - Vincent Lecavalier (16) ASST: Martin St. Louis (52), Kurtis Foster (23)
3 - 2 WSH
3rd Period
Scott Walker (4) ASST: Mike Green (47), Boyd Gordon (5)
4 - 2 WSH
Vincent Lecavalier (17) ASST: Teddy Purcell (4), Andrej Meszaros (7)
4 - 3 WSH
Steven Stamkos (38) ASST: Mattias Ohlund (13), Martin St. Louis (53)
4 - 4 Tie
Scott Walker (5) ASST: Mike Green (48), Jason Chimera (16)
5 - 4 WSH
penalty summary
1st Period
Kurtis Foster  Tripping against  Mike Knuble
Mike Knuble  Hooking against  Todd Fedoruk
Mark Parrish  Hooking against  Alexander Semin
2nd Period
Nicklas Backstrom  Tripping against  Victor Hedman
Jeff Schultz  Interference against  Zenon Konopka
Mike Green  Unsportsmanlike conduct against  Victor Hedman
Victor Hedman  Hooking against  Mike Green
Brooks Laich  Hi-sticking against  Mike Lundin
Tom Poti  Hi-sticking against  Kurtis Foster
3rd Period
Steven Stamkos  Hooking against  Alex Ovechkin
goalie stats
Mike Smith
Mike Smith
SA: 34TOI: 59:33
Saves: 29EV: 25 - 30
PIM: 0PP: 4 - 4
SV%: .853SH: 0 - 0
Semyon Varlamov
Semyon Varlamov
SA: 29TOI: 60:00
Saves: 25EV: 19 - 21
PIM: 0PP: 6 - 8
SV%: .862SH: 0 - 0