03/20 21:41 CDT Vasilevskiy makes 54 saves, Lightning beat Capitals in OT
Vasilevskiy makes 54 saves, Lightning beat Capitals in OT
By STEPHEN WHYNO
AP Hockey Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) --- Andrei Vasilevskiy made a franchise-record 54 saves, Nikita
Kucherov scored twice and the NHL-leading Tampa Bay Lightning won their sixth
consecutive game by beating the Washington Capitals 5-4 in overtime Wednesday
night in a potential playoff preview.
Victor Hedman scored 3:01 into overtime to keep the Lightning rolling in their
first game since clinching the Presidents' Trophy and home-ice advantage
throughout the playoffs. Despite nothing to gain in the standings, they were up
to the task in a showdown against the defending Stanley Cup champions.
Vasilevskiy was on top of his game as Washington set a franchise record with 58
shots. He stopped countryman Alex Ovechkin on a rush chance midway through the
third period during one of the finest performances of his career, and rebounded
in OT after allowing Evgeny Kuznetsov to tie the score with 52.6 seconds left
Kucherov's two goals came on the power play and gave him 37 overall this season
and increased his league-leading point total to 119. That's 14 more than the
next-closest player, reigning Art Ross Trophy winner Connor McDavid.
Anthony Cirelli and Steven Stamkos each took advantage of a Capitals' mistake
to score, and Stamkos added two assists for a three-point night. The
Lightning's league-leading power play that hadn't scored in two games went 3
for 3, and their penalty kill was 5 for 6, thanks in large part to Vasilevskiy.
Lars Eller, Carl Hagelin and T.J. Oshie scored for the Capitals, who are trying
to hold on to first place in the Metropolitan Division. Braden Holtby allowed
five goals on 28 shots as the Lightning beat the Capitals for the second time
in five days.
The teams meet again at Tampa Bay on March 30 and could face off in the Eastern
Conference final for the second consecutive year, if each gets through two
There's no shortage of bad blood between them, and that caused the Capitals to
suffer what would be a devastating loss. Defenseman Michal Kempny's left leg
bent awkwardly as he went down to the ice during a tussle with Cedric Paquette,
and he needed help from trainers to get down the tunnel to the locker room.
Kempny did not return with what the team called a lower-body injury. In the
aftermath of Kempny going down, two unlikely fighters dropped the gloves when
Washington's Jakub Vrana and Tampa Bay's Yanni Gourde traded punches. It was a
boiling point in a fast-paced, intense clash that didn't seem at all as if the
Lightning had nothing to play for.
NOTES: Lightning D Dan Girardi was downgraded to out indefinitely with a
lower-body injury. Girardi missed his sixth consecutive game, and D Anton
Stralman missed his seventh in a row with a lower-body injury. ... Capitals D
Brooks Orpik returned to the lineup in place of Christian Djoos after being
rested at New Jersey on Tuesday in the first half of the back-to-back set.
Djoos could return to the lineup, if Kempny misses any time.
Lightning: Make second stop on three-game trip Thursday at the Carolina
Capitals: Continue homestand Friday against former coach Bruce Boudreau and the
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