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game recap

Capitals surge past Lightning to clinch playoff berth

T.J. Oshie scores hat trick for Washington, which is first team to qualify for postseason

by Corey Long / Correspondent

TAMPA -- The Washington Capitals became the first team to clinch a berth in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 5-3 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena on Saturday.

T.J. Oshie had a hat trick, and Justin Williams and John Carlson scored for the Capitals (46-17-8), who have a two-point lead on the Columbus Blue Jackets for first place in the Metropolitan Division and the NHL. Nicklas Backstrom had four assists, and Braden Holtby made 26 saves.

The Capitals reached 100 points and qualified for the postseason for the third consecutive season.


WATCH: All Capitals vs. Lightning highlights


Nikita Kucherov had two goals, and Alex Killorn scored for the Lightning (34-28-9), who lost consecutive games in regulation for the first time since Jan. 31-Feb. 2. Tampa Bay trails the Toronto Maple Leafs by two points for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

Video: WSH@TBL: Oshie records hat trick in win vs. Bolts

Oshie gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead at 3:44 of the first period on a power-play goal with Marcus Johansson providing the set up with a backhand pass from the slot. His second goal came at 11:52 when he finished a 2-on-1 with a chip off a feed from Alex Ovechkin.

"I've been working pretty hard, but like you saw tonight, a lot of these are hats off to my linemates," Oshie said. "We've got a great team here. I've been fortunate enough to be at the end of the score sheet [on] a few things, but more importantly we've got our game back to where it needs to be."

Kucherov scored his 100th NHL goal at 15:52 during a power play to make it 2-1. The Lightning tied the game 2-2 on Killorn's first goal in 16 games at 16:08.

Video: WSH@TBL: Kucherov, Killorn score 16 seconds apart

Williams scored his 20th goal at 3:14 of the third period to give Washington a 3-2 lead. He redirected a shot from Andre Burakovsky that got past Andrei Vasilevskiy. Carlson made it 4-2 at 5:30 with Oshie getting an assist.

"We started off good and came out with good speed to get a 2-0 lead," Backstrom said. "We got a little unlucky there at the end of the period, but stuff like that is going to happen. In the second and third we played even better."

Kucherov pulled the Lightning to 4-3 with 1:30 remaining but Oshie completed his hat trick into an empty net with 44 seconds left. It was Oshie's third NHL hat trick.

"They played well, give them credit, but we have to be better, a lot better, in those situations, more desperation in the game," Killorn said. "When we have an opportunity being 2-2 going in to the third period, we'll take that all day against a team like this, so we just have to be better in the third."

Video: WSH@TBL: Williams deflects in Niskanen's hard slapper


Goal of the game

Carlson's game-winning goal came during a delayed penalty. Oshie was trying to keep the puck alive, chipped it in the air, and Carlson batted it down past Vasilevskiy.

Video: WSH@TBL: Carlson reaches to bat puck in out of midair


Saves of the game

Holtby made a save on a slap shot from Byron Froese and stopped Gabriel Dumont on the rebound in front of the net at 16:58 of the second period.

Video: WSH@TBL: Holtby stones Froese, denies rebound try


Unsung performance of the game

Burakovsky had an assist and was plus-1 with seven shots on goal in 15:12 of ice time after missing 15 games with a hand injury.


Highlight of the game

Ovechkin forced Vasilevskiy to commit to his side before passing to Oshie, who scored into the open net.

"I think when we move the puck and are sharp it makes everyone move a little bit quicker and the reads are easier," Oshie said. "For the most part we kept everything simple and got the job done."

Video: WSH@TBL: Oshie one-times Ovechkin's perfect dish


They said it

"They played like a desperate team. We knew they were going to be a difficult team. They were tough on the forecheck, but we handled it well and got a big performance from Oshie and pulled out the win." -- Capitals goalie Braden Holtby


"They score that fourth one, but I think they battled hard, can't take away that we are playing a really good team and they make it hard for us. We battle back to within one again but we couldn't get the equalizer before they score the empty net. We just have to make sure this doesn't break us and we refocus for the next one." -- Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman


Need to know

Ovechkin has 83 points (41 goals, 42 assists) in 63 games against the Lightning, tying him with Florida Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr for the most points by an opponent against Tampa Bay. … Johansson left the game in the first period because of an illness.


What's next

Capitals: Host the Calgary Flames on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; CSN-DC, SNW, NHL.TV)

Lightning: Host the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET; TVA Sports, SUN, FS-A PLUS, NHL.TV)


Video: Caps clinch playoff berth behind Oshie's hat trick

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