“It was a must-win situation, there is no other way to look at it,” Boyle said. “We needed the two points. A tie wasn’t going to cut it. It took until late in the third, but we got it done.”
Boyle knotted it at 2:03 during a two-man advantage when his slap shot from the top of the left faceoff circle trickled between the pads of goaltender Olaf Kolzig.
Tampa Bay gained the lead 1:44 later when Modin carried over the blue line and fired a slap shot under Kolzig’s right pad.
Boyle posted his second consecutive multiple-point game and has four goals and an assist in the past four contests for the Lightning, who moved within four points of first-place Washington.
“We’re in a different position than last year,” Boyle said. “This year, we’re right in the middle of it. This is the team we’re trying to catch. I’m not looking at seventh place, I’m looking at Washington, and we needed the win.”
Last season, Boyle put up similar numbers during Tampa Bay’s postseason push, scoring three goals and five assists in late February and early March, when the Lightning earned points in 10 of 12 games.
“I get fired up with the crowd,” Boyle said. “The last couple of games, they’ve been really good. For me personally, I get a pretty good rush off of that and maybe it’s a credit to them.”
The Lightning improved to 8-3-3-1 against Southeast Division foes. All three division losses have come against Washington.
“It’s nice to be done with them, but they’re the leader in our division and it would be nice to have another couple of cracks at them, get the points from them,” Modin said. “We’ve been struggling playing against them. It’s nice to finally get a win.”
Vaclav Propoal added an insurance goal with 85 seconds left and Nikolai Khabibulin made 14 saves as Tampa Bay concluded a 2-0-1 homestand.
Ben Clymer was stopped on a breakaway but collided with Kolzig in the crease, enabling Prospal to skate in and tap the loose puck into the open net.
Kolzig was down on the ice for several minutes before being helped off. He was replaced by rookie Sebastien Charpentier, who faced no shots. Kolzig made 27 saves for the Capitals, who completed a 2-2-0 road trip.
“They’re starting to think about first place again,” Caps coach Bruce Cassidy said. “It’s not the end of the world for us. We still have a four-point lead and we’ve got to get back. We don’t have time to feel sorry for ourselves.”
After being held without a shot for nearly 6 1/2 minutes in the second period, Washington broke through on Robert Lang’s 17th goal. Kip Miller sent a pass from behind the net to Lang, who broke toward the slot and one-timed the puck inside the left goalpost.
But the Lightning never allowed the Capitals to generate much offense. Tampa Bay held Washington without a shot for the first seven minutes of the contest and again for eight minutes bridging the opening two periods.
“I told a couple of defensemen tonight, when I played in Florida, I had success against (Jaromir) Jagr,” Boyle said. “(I told them) just get under his skin as much as you can and not let him wheel around like he does on most night. Obviously, that was a big part of our success.”
The 15 shots were the fewest allowed by Tampa Bay this season.