Similar to the story in other recent Lightning defeats, this game's outcome hinged on a few crucial defensive miscues. Three third period errors led to Washington goals, tallies that broke open a 1-1 game.
Two of those goals came early in the final frame. On the first, the Lightning turned the puck over in the neutral zone and, on the ensuing Washington counter, Lars Eller scored the go-ahead goal. Forty-five seconds later, off a Caps breakout from the Washington defensive zone, the Lightning allowed a three-on-two rush. Garnet Hathaway finished an in-alone chance to extend the lead.
Later in the period, the Lightning allowed another costly goal. Just over a minute after Jan Rutta had cut the deficit to 3-2, they suffered a breakdown in the d-zone. Even though initially the Lightning appeared to be in good shape defensively, T.J. Oshie eluded the coverage and scored on a wraparound.
There were other elements to the loss. Early in the game, the Lightning successfully broke down the Washington defense and generated a handful of in-close dangerous looks. But they couldn't finish them off, as goalie Ilya Samsonov made several key saves. In the second period, the Lightning tied the score with a Brayden Point power play goal. But they had three other unsuccessful power play chances in that period alone - one or more additional power play goals would have given them a lead entering the third period.
The Lightning not only lost the game, they also lost Nikita Kucherov to injury when he blocked a John Carlson shot during the second period. We'll see if he's able to return as soon as Tuesday, when the Lightning host Ottawa.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
1. Dmitry Orlov - Capitals. Assist.
2. Ilya Samsonov - Capitals. 26 saves.
3. Alex Killorn - Lightning. Two assists.