The Washington Capitals are so hot that they can blow a four-goal lead and still win.
Mike Green's power-play goal 2:59 into overtime gave the Capitals their seventh consecutive victory, a 6-5 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday -- but not before Washington failed to hold a 5-1 lead.
Vincent Lecavalier was called for slashing Marcus Johansson 1:53 into overtime, and the Capitals' League-leading power play worked the puck until Green was able to tee up a shot from the top of the right circle and beat Mathieu Garon for the win.
Capitals coach Adam Oates was happy with the final result, though not with seeing his team take its foot off the gas with a four-goal lead.
"Guess there is no really easy explanation," he said. "First of all, they are a good team. And everything went our way in the first period. You lose a little bit of momentum because it was a little too easy, you get a little flat and all of a sudden, here they come. You start sinking yourself and before you know it, it's happening pretty fast."
The overtime goal prevented the Capitals from becoming the first team this season to lose after leading a game by four goals.
"Tomorrow we are going to wake up and we have our two points and that's all that matters," Green said. "This game is put away, but we have to learn from this. We can't let situations like that happen. They used to call us the 'Cardiac Kids' for a reason, and we showed that tonight."
More important for the Capitals was that the victory extended their Southeast Division lead over the second-place Winnipeg Jets to four points. The Capitals have 48 points to the Jets' 44; each team has six games to play.
"We had a couple of games in hand here and we took advantage of them," Washington forward Mathieu Perreault said. "Now we have got our destiny in our hand. We have to just keep winning and not look back."
Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper was proud of his team's comeback, even though the Lightning moved another step closer to missing the playoffs.
"You take it as a loss," he said. "Ultimately, we ended up losing the game, but you can sit here and say a lot of good came out of that loss. We scratched and clawed back to get a point, ultimately we didn't finish them off. It's tough when you take the penalty and half the overtime is going to be a 4-on-3."
The Capitals started out like a team on fire, outshooting the Lightning 20-6 in the opening period and getting goals by Troy Brouwer, Jack Hillen and Alex Ovechkin in a span of less than six minutes late in the period to take a 3-0 lead to the dressing room. Ovechkin outraced the Lightning for a loose puck and hit a wide-open net at 19:22 after Ben Bishop overcommitted himself for his League-leading 27th goal.
Brouwer's goal came on the last of Washington's four first-period power plays, and Lightning forward Martin St. Louis said playing down a man for so long was the main reason for the slow start.
"It's not like we weren't ready to play," he said. "We took eight minutes of penalties. ... We just couldn't catch our breath, and it's 3-0."
Jason Chimera was left all alone and beat Garon, who replaced Bishop, at 2:41 of the second period for a 4-0 lead. Richard Panik got Tampa Bay on the board at 3:55, but Eric Fehr restored Washington's four-goal lead at 5:26.
But the rest of the period belonged to the Lightning, which put 21 shots on Braden Holtby and made it 5-2 at 18:47 on a goal by St. Louis.
Tampa Bay continued to control play in the third period, and goals by Panik and St. Louis made it 5-4 with 11:43 left in regulation. The Lightning continued to press and tied the game with 2:35 left in regulation when Teddy Purcell beat Holtby for his 11th of the season. The full house at Verizon Center booed the home team when the horn sounded to end regulation.
"I hope for next time when we get lead like that we're not going to stop playing and play our way," Ovechkin said.
Material from team media was used in this report.
|PPG - Troy Brouwer (16) ASST: Mike Ribeiro (28), Alex Ovechkin (19)|
1 - 0 WSH
|Jack Hillen (2) ASST: Jay Beagle (5), Steve Oleksy (7)|
2 - 0 WSH
|Alex Ovechkin (27) ASST: Nicklas Backstrom (38)|
3 - 0 WSH
|Jason Chimera (2) ASST: Mathieu Perreault (9), Steve Oleksy (8)|
4 - 0 WSH
|Richard Panik (3) ASST: Tom Pyatt (6), Teddy Purcell (23)|
4 - 1 WSH
|Eric Fehr (8) ASST: Mathieu Perreault (10)|
5 - 1 WSH
|Martin St. Louis (10) ASST: Steven Stamkos (26), Benoit Pouliot (11)|
5 - 2 WSH
|Richard Panik (4) ASST: Radko Gudas (2), Keith Aulie (4)|
5 - 3 WSH
|Martin St. Louis (11) ASST: Victor Hedman (13), Tom Pyatt (7)|
5 - 4 WSH
|Teddy Purcell (11) ASST: Tom Pyatt (8), Richard Panik (4)|
5 - 5 Tie
|PPG - Mike Green (10) ASST: Mike Ribeiro (29), Eric Fehr (7)|
6 - 5 WSH
|Power Play %||18.8%||25.3%|
|% on Road||14.8%||23.7%|
|% at Home||22.9%||26.8%|
|Nate Thompson Tripping against Aaron Volpatti|
|Benoit Pouliot Hi-sticking against Steve Oleksy|
|Benoit Pouliot Hi-sticking against Steve Oleksy|
|Teddy Purcell Too many men/ice - bench|
|B.J. Crombeen Misconduct (10 min) against Troy Brouwer|
|Jay Beagle Tripping against Victor Hedman|
|Nicklas Backstrom Slashing against Teddy Purcell|
|Vincent Lecavalier Slashing against Marcus Johansson|