Lightning sticks to what works
WASHINGTON, D.C. — As the Capitals worked through their fourth power play against the Lightning Thursday night, Alex Ovechkin swiveled at the top of the zone, appearing ready to drive, dish or shoot at any moment.
The Lightning, meanwhile, didn’t appear ready to counter.
Tyler Johnson had lost his stick during that second-period standoff and was left to challenge the longtime Washington star with just his body as defense.
But Johnson playing short- handed in equipment, and the Lightning going shorthanded in number, didn’t matter. To complement an offense that continues strong power-play execution — and that scored the winning goal off a sequence set up by a man-advantage — Tampa Bay’s penalty kill shined at Capital One Arena for a 4-2 win.
“I just latched onto Ovi there,” Johnson said. “You’re just trying to eat shots if he’s shooting it … You’ve got to do whatever you can. Luckily for me, the other guys played it really well, so we didn’t really give much up when that happened.”
The Capitals didn’t register a shot after Johnson’s stick malfunction, instead settling for a series of passes before Victor Hedman, in the box for tripping, returned to the ice.
Tampa Bay’ s man-down defense frustrated the Capitals — and their fans — early in the game, too. In the last nine minutes of the first period, the Capitals drew three power plays.
During the first for interference on Yanni Gourde, Tampa Bay faced the Capitals’ top power-play unit for the entire two minutes.
About a minute after that denial, referees whistled Hedman for slashing but the Capitals again couldn’t convert.
And by the time the Lightning stopped the Capitals’ third power play, courtesy of a hooking call on Nikita Kucherov, with a few seconds left in the opening period, boos rang down.
In total, Tampa Bay denied Washington’s nine shots on four power plays. Despite the Capitals holding a 38-20 shooting advantage, Andrei Vasilevskiy made 36 saves, including several in the final minutes.
Tampa Bay’s Tyler Johnson faces off with Washington’s Alex Ovechkin without a stick during the second period.