WASHINGTON (AP) – John Carlson was better than good, Alex Ovechkin reached another milestone and the Washington Capitals handed the Tampa Bay Lightning a third consecutive loss.
Carlsen scored twice and added two assists for a four-point game, Ovechkin scored 1,400 career points with his 43rd goal of the season, and the Capitals beat back-to-back defending Stanley Cup champions 4 on Wednesday night. Made his score by beating -3. Skid on two.
Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Good” – Carlson’s goal song – was actually played three times, although one was rejected because he went offside before scoring. The two who counted came on the right shot on the power play and defeated playoff MVP Andrei Vasilevsky.
Ovechkin scored his 773rd goal after beating his countryman in a broken game. He became the 21st player in NHL history to reach 1,400 points, and fans gave the longtime captain and the face of the franchise a standing ovation for reaching their latest plateau.
While a five-goal first period doesn’t scream great goalscoring, Washington’s Ilya Samsonov made some significant saves on Lightning scoring opportunities created by teammates’ mistakes. Samsonov most memorably denied 2019 MVP Nikita Kucherov on a 2-on-1 rush with a Brayden point.
Samsonov was making his first home debut since scoring three goals for 10 shots and getting the hook after the first halftime on 28 February against Toronto. Vitek Venacek’s 25-save performance adds more uncertainty to the Capitals’ position in the nets amid recent struggles and with the playoffs beginning less than six weeks away.
Tampa Bay and Washington are both heading into the aftermath of the season: The top eight in the Eastern Conference have been essentially locked out for months. Still, the winners of the last two playoffs and the 2018 Cup winners will be looking to put themselves together before the first round.
“It’s two teams that are probably trying to find themselves and get into a groove as the season comes to an end,” Lightning coach John Cooper said. “Two experienced teams, two older teams – we probably have a lot in common.”
Even though the Capitals were playing their third game in nine days and the Lightning went through a long, hard-fought practice Tuesday, the similarities were greater in the sloppy play on both sides contributing to hockey’s entertaining.
Lightning left Capitals defenseman Martin Fehervery open for his goal. An unsuccessful clear by Washington turned in Kucherov’s goal, and Nick Paul defeated the Capitals players to a loose puck for his second in nine games with his new team.
The penalty set up Carlsen’s blows on the power play and made things interesting of late. Ross Colton scored with 2:50 in the third period on the power play and made it a goal difference in a showdown that heated up throughout the points.
It may take some time for Tampa Bay and Washington to win the series to see each other again this spring. But their final regular-season meeting and the Capitals’ first win of the three could yield some valuable lessons about what it would take to win in the playoffs.
Notes: Capitals winger Tom Wilson moved early in third but returned later in the period. … Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh missed his seventh game in a row with an upper body injury. …capital forward Garnet Hathaway was stricken with illness of late. Conor McMichael replaced him in Washington’s lineup, and Lars Aller was moved to the left wing in the fourth row.
Lightning: Host the Boston Bruins on Friday nights.
Capitals: Visit the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturdays.
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