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Lightning end 12-game drought vs. Caps with 7-4 win

by John Kreiser

To the Tampa Bay Lightning, 12 -- as in consecutive losses to the Washington Capitals -- was more than enough.

The Lightning beat their Southeast Division rivals for the first time since Nov. 16, 2007, by outscoring the Caps 7-4 on Tuesday night. TampaBay jumped on Washington for four first-period goals, saw Washington score three times in the second period to get even, but went in front to stay on Martin St. Louis' goal with 2:22 left in the period.

Third-period goals by Kurtis Foster and Jeff Halpern put the game away.

"It was big -- we obviously haven't had a lot of success against these guys," said TampaBay's Steven Stamkos, who scored two power-play goals in the big first period. "It was a good effort by us tonight. They're a pretty potent offensive team. The guys did an excellent job of refocusing after they tied it up.

"It's a big confidence booster. It shows we're in it for the long run."

Vincent Lecavalier and Stamkos put the Lightning up 2-0 midway through the first. After Alexander Semin scored at 14:05, TampaBay went up 4-1 when Stamkos got his 25th goal of the season and Stephane Veilleux scored his first goal in 23 games late in the period.

But Mike Green had two power-play goals in the second, including one that tied it at 4-4 at 12:08. Eric Fehr also scored during the second.

However, St. Louis' 250th career goal put TampaBay up 5-4 lead with 2:32 left in the second. The right wing extended his point streak to 11 games.

The victory moved Tampa within two points of eighth-place Ottawa in the tightly packed Eastern Conference race -- just eight points separate fifth-place Boston from 13th-place Florida.

"Every game is important for us," said Stamkos, the No. 1 pick in the 2008 Entry Draft who has surpassed his rookie production with 25 goals. "The Eastern Conference is so tight that we can't afford to lose lots of games, especially against this team."

Though they overcame the early deficit, the Caps and coach Bruce Boudreau were very displeased with their play in the first 20 minutes.

"The last two games, in the first period were weren't ready to play," Boudreau said. "That's got to be my fault. These guys have to come prepared.

"It's difficult to come back when a team gets a 4-1 lead on you in the first period."

Added defenseman Brian Pothier: "For whatever reason, we were napping in the first. We were frustrated because we weren't getting anything done."

Washington captain Alex Ovechkin was more succinct.

"We weren't ready to play," he said. "We tried to be too casual, too cute, and it cost us four goals."

Ovechkin was at the center of a third-period imbroglio after being accused of a dirty hit by TampaBay's Steve Downie with six minutes left to play. The two were ready to fight when Matt Bradley jumped in and fought Downie instead.

"You don't let a guy like that go after your best player, and he's our best player," said Bradley, who was ejected for coming off the bench but said afterward that he had replaced Fehr on a change. "We can't have that happen."

Material from team media and wire services was used in this report

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