Troy Brouwer netted his first career hat trick at the Verizon Center tonight to lead the Washington Capitals to an important 4-3 win o0ver division rival Tampa Bay Lightning. The win gave Washington 2 points, while the Southeast leading Florida Panthers fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1. That moves the Caps within 2 points of Florida for the Southeast Division lead. Alexander Ovechkin started the Caps scoring with a power play slap shot at the 3:52 mark to give the Capitals a 1-0 lead. It was the first of three Washington power plays in the first six minutes of the game. Ovechkin's 18th goal of the season was assisted by Dennis Wideman and Marcus Johansson. Brouwer's first marker came less than two minutes later on another power, a faked pass and shot to the side of Dwayne Roloson that beat Roloson. Brouwer's power play tally was assisted by Wideman and Alexander Semin. The first period ended with the Caps leading 2-0. Caps and Lightning deadlocked 8-8 on shots on net.Brouwer opened the second period to tally his second of the night at the 5:25 mark to give the Caps a 3-0 lead. Brouwers' wrist shot was assisted by Brooks Laich and Mike Knuble. Tom Pyatt would get one back for Tampa Bay late in the second period to reduce the Caps lead to 3-1. The Lightning out shot the Caps in the second period 8-5.
Caps never make a game easy. As such was this game. Late in the third period, at the 16:36 mark, Steven Stamkos nailed a goal right under the pipe, reviewed by replay, to pull the Lightning to within 1, 3-2. Stamkos tallied his NHL leading 30th marker of the season. With an empty net, Brouwer struck again for his first hat trick of his career, fed by Brooks Laich, to give the Capitals a 4-2 lead with just one minute to pay. However, you know the Caps, they need to make things interesting. Vincent Lecavalier struck with just 11 second in the game to pull the Lightning to within 1 at 4-3. The Lightning nearly evened the score with just three seconds left, by Tomas Vokoun made the game saving save to preserve the 4-3 win. Caps escaped, and they will take it.
Tomas Vokoun stopped 28 of 31 shots to earn his 18th win of the season (18-10)
The Caps improve to 16-5-1 at the Verizon Center and maintain the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference, 1 point by seventh place Toronto and 2 points behind Southeast leading Florida. The Caps have now won 6 of their last 8 games.
The Capitals were 2 for 4 on the Power Play, getting power play tallied from Alex Ovechkin and Troy Brouwer. The Caps penalty kill was a solid 4 for 5, but snapped its decade long streak. Prior to the game, the Caps were 26 for 26 in penalty kills at home. That ended with the third period Steven Stamkos goal.
Troy Brouwer, 3 goals
Dennis Wideman, 2 assists
Brooks Laich, 2 assists
DCPSR Player of the Game:
Troy Brouwer, the Hat Trick!