WASHINGTON (AP) -For more than two periods, the game was about possible retribution for a week-old goal celebration by Alex Ovechkin.
Then, with the score tied in the third, the player whose career was nearly ended by a concussion scored his first goal in the more than a year.
Brian Pothier's slap shot with 15:30 remaining proved to be the winning goal in the Washington Capitals' 5-3 victory over Tampa Bay on Friday night.
Ovechkin scored his 52nd and 53rd goals and added two assists for the Capitals, who blew a 3-1 first-period lead before holding on to beat the Lightning for the 10th straight time. Nicklas Backstrom scored his 20th and 21st goals. Ovechkin reached 100 points for the season with his second goal, an empty-netter with 7 seconds to play.
Pothier's career was in jeopardy after he was checked into the board by Boston's Milan Lucic on Jan. 3, 2008. The 31-year-old defenseman had headaches and dizziness for nearly a year, and he wasn't able to skate until a specialist fitted him with glasses that fixed his vision problems. He made his NHL return March 16.
The game was the first between the teams since Ovechkin sparked a controversy with a premeditated celebration of his 50th goal in a win at Tampa Bay on March 19. The Russian dropped his stick on the ice and pretended it was too hot to touch.
Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos and Vaclav Prospal scored for the Lightning.
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - Paul Gaustad scored midway through the third period to help Buffalo avoid a meltdown, and Ryan Miller stopped 33 shots - including the first 16 he faced - in his return after missing 13 because of a sprained left ankle.
Tim Connolly scored twice, Jochen Hecht had a goal an assist, and Daniel Paille also scored for Buffalo, 10th in the Eastern Conference - five points behind Montreal. The Sabres will face the Canadiens on Saturday night in Montreal.
Matt Stajan, Nikolai Kulemin and Boyd Devereaux scored for Toronto.
DETROIT (AP) - Joey MacDonald made 42 saves for his first NHL shutout, and Frans Nielsen and Josh Bailey scored goals for New York.
New York, which broke a three-game losing streak, has the worst record in the NHL, while Stanley Cup champion Detroit is tied with San Jose for the league lead.
MacDonald, making his 62nd appearance in an NHL career that began with the Red Wings in 2006-07, made 14 saves in the second period and 19 in the third.