Stamkos goal beats Capitals in OT

Stamkos goal beats Capitals in OT
February 1, 2012, 3:22 am
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TAMPA, Fla. -- It was a loss and a stinging one at that.

But the Capitals are all about collecting points and they grabbed a crucial one Tuesday night in Tampa thanks to a gritty comeback and some timely saves by goaltender Tomas Vokoun.

The Tampa Bay Lightning pulled off their fifth straight win when Steven Stamkos rammed home a Marty St. Louis rebound with his NHL-leading 33rd goal of the season 2:45 into overtime.

The loss dropped the Caps to 1-0-1 without Alex Ovechkin, who will serve the third and final game of his NHL suspension Wednesday night in Sunrise, Fla., when the Capitals take on the Panthers.

But the point gave the Caps a one-point lead over the Panthers and sole possession of first place in the Southeast Division standings heading into Wednesday nights showdown between the two teams in Sunrise, Fla.

Were happy with the point, Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner said. Were happy to battle back from being down 3-1. It showed some pretty good character.

We said (Monday) that these are two games in a row we want to get all four points, but thats a pretty good team over there. We had a couple bad plays, a couple turnovers, but we did a good job hanging in.

The Caps received goals from Matt Hendricks, Mathieu Perreault and Troy Brouwer, but it was Vokouns breakaway stop on Stamkos with the Caps trailing 3-2 that proved to be a game-saver because moments later Brouwer knotted the score at 3-3.

That was a big momentum change for us, Brouwer said. Any time you can get a save like that, especially on a player like Stamkos, really gives the guys a boost. Unfortunately, we couldnt get him a second point.

It was a tough night for defensemen John Carlson (minus-4) and Roman Hamrlik (minus-3), who were broken up midway through the game, but a strong night for the line of Laich, Hendricks and Brouwer, who produced a pair of goals.

The Capitals were a little skitterish in their own zone, allowing a pair of breakaways to the Lightnings two most dangerous players, but some hard work by Brooks Laich in the offensive zone resulted in goals by Hendricks and Brouwer.

Theres no fear to their game, Hunter said. They take a hit to make a play and thats why they succeeded.

Brouwers goal, his 15th of the season, came 5:53 into the third period after Laich stripped defenseman Matt Gilroy of the puck. Laich didnt get an assist on the play but it was the second goal of the night he set up.

The Capitals entered Tuesday nights game ranked second in the NHL in home power-play percentage (23.8) but 25th on the road (13.0 percent) and those numbers didnt improve, even with a four-minute power play in the second period.

The Caps grabbed the lead on a broken play that turned into a dazzling goal by Hendricks. Laich kept the play alive by diving and sweeping the puck to Hendricks, who fanned on his shot. Hendricks alertly retrieved the puck and whipped a wicked backahander into the top right corner of the net.

It was Hendricks first goal since Dec. 26, snapping a streak of 14 games without a goal.

The Lightning reeled off three straight goals to take a 3-1 lead on strikes by Teddy Purcell, St. Louis and Nate Thompson.

Hamrlik allowed Downie too much room to make a pass to Purcell on the first goal, fell down at the blue line on St. Louis breakaway goal, and was one step behind Thompson when he converted a pass from Dominic Moore to make it 3-1.

After the goal by Thompson the Caps coaching staff separated Hamrlik and Carlson, putting Hamrik with Dennis Wideman, Carlson with Dmitry Orlov and Karl Alzner with John Erskine.

Mathieu Perreault drew the Caps within one 13:07 into the second period when his centering pass deflected off Thomson and behind Tampa goalie Mathieu Garon for his fourth goal in two games.

That set the stage for Brouwers game-tying goal in the third period and the Caps played sound defensive hockey to send the game into overtime and preserve the point.

I thought we played a very good game, Laich said. We didnt get the result but we came back and got it to overtime and had a chance to win it before they did.

I thought we controlled the puck as well as weve done in the last 20 or 30 games. It felt like we had the puck more often than not and we made them chase.

The Caps will try to continue that style Tuesday night when they take on the Panthers, who have not played since before the All-Star break.