WASHINGTON -- Back when the Washington Capitals were 2-8-1 and sitting in last place in the Eastern Conference, right wing Troy Brouwer firmly believed their path to the Stanley Cup playoffs would be through the Southeast Division.
Two months later it appears he was right.
Brouwer was the first of six different goal scorers for the Capitals Saturday night as they blew two four-goal leads en route to their seventh straight victory, a heart-racing 6-5 overtime win over the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning at the Verizon Center.
"We can't let situations like that happen," said Capitals defenseman Mike Green, who provided the heroics when he blasted a power-play slap shot past Mathieu Garon for the game-winner 2:59 into the extra period. "They used to call us the Cardiac Kids for a reason and we showed that tonight."
Green is now second among NHL defensemen with 10 goals. His game-winner came after Marcus Johansson drove the net and was pulled down by Tampa Bay captain Vincent Lecavalier to put the Caps on the power play.
Washington is now 11-1-1 in its last 13 games and has opened up a four-point lead over the idle Winnipeg Jets in the race for the Southeast title and the third seed in the playoffs.
The Capitals are now 21-9-1 since their dreadful start and beginning to believe they can create some magic in the post-season.
"We had a couple games in hand (on Winnipeg) and we took advantage of them," said Capitals center Mathieu Perreault, who assisted on second-period goals by Jason Chimera and Eric Fehr. "Now we have our destiny in our hands and we have to keep winning and not look back."
The Capitals might not want to look back at Saturday night's win, not after seeing the Lightning storm back from deficits of 4-0 and 5-1 to force overtime on Teddy Purcell's goal with 2:35 remaining in regulation. Martin St. Louis and Richard Panik scored two goals each to spark the comeback.
"We could have packed it in," Purcell said. "It just goes to show that we have a lot of character and fight in here and even though there's only seven games left, we're trying to build and get better for next year."
The Lightning (17-21-3) suffered their third loss of the season at the hands of the Capitals and have now dropped four of their last five.
"We scratched and clawed to get a point," Tampa coach Jon Cooper said. "Ultimately, we didn't finish them off. It's tough when you take the penalty and half the overtime is 4-on-3."
The Caps opened up their big leads on goals by Brouwer, Jack Hillen, Alex Ovechkin, Chimera and Fehr.
With his goal, Ovechkin took over the NHL scoring lead with 27 goals, one more than Tampa's Steven Stamkos, who was held without a goal for the sixth time in seven games.
Ovechkin stormed down the right wing and went forehand to backhand to beat Ben Bishop, who was pulled after allowing three goals on 20 shots in the first period.
NOTES: Mike Ribeiro's two power-play assists gave him 22 power-play points, putting him one behind NHL leader P.K. Subban of the Montreal Canadiens. They were also Ribeiro's 600th and 601st NHL points. ... The Lightning are now 12-10-0 when Stamkos scores a goal and 5-11-3 when he does not. Washington is 16-3-1 when Ovechkin scores and 7-14-1 when he doesn't. ... The Capitals are 14-1-1 in their last 16 home games against the Lightning. ... Tampa right wing St. Louis ranks 97th on the NHL's all-time scoring list with 904 points, four behind former Capitals defenseman Scott Stevens, who is 96th on the list. ... Capitals forward Fehr played in his 300th NHL game. ... The Lightning continue their four-game road trip Sunday night in Buffalo. The Caps are back in action Tuesday night at home against the Toronto Maple Leafs.