As what is becoming customary for these Washington Capitals, the Caps fell behind 1-0 in the first period on a Teddy Purcell goal at the 9:27 mark to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead. That is all that would be tallied in the first period. Caps actually looked pretty flat in the first as Tampa Bay dominated the puck in the Caps end. Caps started the game out with a quick 5-1 shot advantage, but that would evaporate as the Lightning out shot the Caps 13-8.
Caps looked like a different team in the second period, hustling, getting open in the middle, and fighting for the puck. That second period aggressiveness led to two unanswered goals for the Caps. The first one came on a missed Alexander Semin wrister and a rebound goal for Tom Poti, as Dan Ellis was still out of position from the Semin shot. It was Poti's 1st of the season., It was also Poti's first game back since being injured on October 21st, a welcome back the Caps would take. The Poti goal was assisted by Semin and Nicklas Backstrom. It was Backstrom's first of four assists on the night. Washington's second goal came 5 1/2 minutes later on a nifty goal by Mike Knuble. Knuble took a bounced shot from Brooks Laich, off Dan Ellis, and it put it past Ellis as he nearly skated past the net to Ellis' left side. A beauty for Knuble, his second in as many games. Knuble was on a goal drought, scoring in the first game of the season, then not tallying again until Tuesday. Now Knuble has a two goal game streak.
The Caps and Alexander Semin exploded in the third period, out scoring the Lightning 4-2, with a hat trick from Semin. Ryan Malone started the scoring off in the third period, scoring on a Tampa Bay power play and knotting the game up at 2-2. That tie was short lived, less than two minutes, when Semin struck for his 1st of 3 goals on the night, a wrister put past Ellis to give the Caps a 3-2 lead they would not relinquish. The goal was assisted by Backstrom and Ovechkin. Six minutes later, Semin followed it up with a slap shot goal, assisted by Backstrom and Ovechkin. Semin's 2nd goal gave Washington a 4-2 lead at the half way mark of the third period. Then the two superstars come into play. First, two minutes after Semin's second goal, Steven Stamkos struck for Tampa Bay on a snap shot put past Caps goalie Michal Nuevirth and pull his lightning to within 1 goal, 4-3. The Great 8 would have none of that, striking back less than three minutes later with a wrist shot goal. It was Ovie's 9th of the season. Semin got the hat trick at the 19:44 mark in an empty net, giving him his 12th goal of the season, two behind NHL leader Stamkos. It was a high flying, wild third period that saw Tampa Bay put 6 more shots on net, 16-10, but Washington won the important stat, out scoring Tampa 4-2 in the final period.
Neuvirth stopped 38 of 41 shots to pick up his 10th win of the season, now 10-3. Washington overall improves to an impressive 12-4 and jumping to a 6 point lead over second place Tampa in the Southeast Division. It also keeps the atop the Eastern Conference by two points over Philadelphia. Washington has now won 6 straight, 8 of their last 10, and have improved to 8-1 at the Verizon Center.
Nicklas Backstrom, 4 assists
Alex Ovechkin, 1 goal, 2 assists
Alexander Semin, 3 goals, 2 assists
DCPSR PLAYER OF THE GAME:
ALEXANDER SEMIN, 3 goals, 2 assists +3