WASHINGTON (AP)—It took a very unusual development for Tampa Bay to get some life in the playoffs—a 5-on-3 power play in overtime.
Vincent Lecavalier scored on the two-man advantage 2:29 into the extra period Tuesday night, giving the Lightning a 4-3 victory over the Washington Capitals and ending 4 1/2 years of frustration in the nation’s capital.
“We thought if the penalties were going to even out, they would even out in the third period,” said Capitals defensemen Ken Klee, who became the critical second man in the box when he elbowed Dave Andreychuk in the head. “I don’t think anyone expects a 5-on-3 in overtime.”
The victory reduced the Capitals’ first-round playoff series lead to 2-1 and snapped an 11-game Tampa Bay losing streak at the MCI Center. The Lightning’s last road win over Washington came on Nov. 4, 1998.
Game 4 is Wednesday night in Washington.
“We don’t feel the pressure,” Tampa Bay coach John Tortarella said. “No matter what happens in this series, we’re not supposed to win it. So we’re just going to continue to play.”
With Klee and Jaromir Jagr off the ice, Lecavalier poked in an easy rebound for his second goal of the game, completing an odd twist to the series. The playoff-inexperienced Lightning have been taking bad penalties from the start— including a few more Tuesday night—but it was the Capitals who were finally caught short in a major way.
Asked if he had ever seen a 5-on-3 overtime situation, Lecavalier said: “No—but you’ve got to be disciplined.” He then laughed, because it’s been lack of discipline that has hurt the Lightning.
Lacavalier said he was surprised by the two-man advantage. “But at the same time, they’ve done a great job. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in overtime or in the third period with two minutes left in the game, it should always be the same. Sometimes they don’t do that, but they did tonight.”
While Klee’s penalty was more obvious, Washington coach Bruce Cassidy took issue with the roughing call on Jagr.
“It’s a one-on-one battle away from the play you see a hundred times,” Cassidy said. “He saw it as roughing.”
Each team scored once in each of the three regulation periods, with Tampa Bay taking the one-goal lead each time. Washington defenseman Brendan Witt sent the game into overtime with a late goal, and Dainius Zubrus scored twice for the Capitals after missing a first-period penalty shot.
The key to the game was Tortorella’s decision to move Martin St. Louis to Lacavalier’s first line. St. Louis made two assists from the rear boards and scored in the third period.
“We couldn’t find an answer for them,” Cassidy said. “Tonight they were the difference. Let’s face it: Young kids, you get thrown together and you have success early on.”
Witt tied the game from the slot with 2:56 to play, taking a brave centering pass from Jagr. Jagr was sandwiched while making the pass, took an elbow from Pavel Kubina and lay bleeding on the ice for about a minute.
Jagr didn’t miss a shift, and no penalty was called—although Jagr said he felt there should have been.
St. Louis had given Tampa Bay the lead with 8:47 remaining after taking Vaclav Prospal’s well-timed pass at the blue line.
The Lightning again came out aggressive, taking their first lead of the series when St. Louis fed Lecavalier in the slot.
Zubrus had a chance to tie it with his short-handed penalty shot, awarded after he was hooked to the ice by Prospal, but his attempt was high and wide.He redeemed minutes later on a power play.
The Capitals fell about 1,000 fans short of selling out their first home playoff game in two years. Attendance was 17,239 at the 18,277-seat MCI Center. The fans vented their frustration at the officials by littering the ice with bottles and other items after the final goal. … Zubrus’ penalty miss made the Capitals 0-for-4 in playoff penalty shots in franchise history. … The biggest Lightning bonehead penalty of the night: Kubina high-sticked Steve Konowalchuk in the chin after the second-period buzzer. Washington failed to score on the power play to open the third period. … Lacavalier’s goal was thefirst in 11 power-play chances in the series for the Lightning.