Caps blow 4-goal lead, then strike Lightning 6-5 in OT
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Washington Capitals blew a four-goal lead Saturday night before Mike Green scored a power-play goal at 2:59 of overtime, extending the team's winning streak to seven games with a 6-5 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Alex Ovechkin scored his 27th goal to move ahead in the NHL's goal-scoring race, and the Capitals moved four points clear atop the Southeast Division, albeit after cruising way too much once they had a 5-1 lead early in the second period.
Green scored after Vincent Lecavalier was whistled for slashing Marcus Johansson, who was skating in on the crease for a clear look at a potential winning goal.
Ovechkin broke a tie with the Lightning's Steven Stamkos to take the solo spot atop the goal leaderboard for the first time this season.
Troy Brouwer, Jack Hillen, Jason Chimera and Eric Fehr also scored, and Braden Holtby made 35 saves for the Capitals.
The win essentially served as the Capitals' game in hand against the second-place Winnipeg Jets, who are off until Tuesday. Washington leads Winnipeg 48-44 in points in the standings, and both teams have six games to play to decide the winner of the league's weakest division.
Richard Panik and Martin St. Louis each scored twice for the Lightning, who were thoroughly dominated for nearly two periods before three straight goals - including St. Louis' second with 11:43 remaining - pulled them within one.
Teddy Purcell then completed the comeback when he scored with 2:35 remaining in regulation, and Capitals fans booed when the horn sounded to end the third period.
The Lightning have lost four of five and must have felt they were lost in a comedy of errors from the moment starting goaltender Ben Bishop complained that the sun was in his eyes seconds before the opening faceoff.
The start was delayed about a minute while the problem was fixed by closing the drapes in the restaurant on the arena's club level.
Bishop lasted only a period, anyway. He was pulled during the first intermission for Mathieu Garon, who promptly allowed two goals in the first four shots he faced to make the score 5-1.
Tampa Bay's B.J. Crombeen also had a rough game. He dropped his gloves and wanted to fight Washington's Matt Hendricks late in the first period, but Hendricks wanted no part of it and skated away, leaving Crombeen by himself while the Capitals completed a rush that ended with Hillen scoring a goal.
Crombeen tried to stir up trouble again as the horn sounded to end the period and was given a 10-minute misconduct.
Tampa Bay also had a penalty for too many men on the ice in the first period, leading to the goal from Brouwer that started the Capitals' scoring spree.
Ovechkin's goal came in the final minute of the first period when he outskated the Lightning to a loose puck and backhanded his shot past an overcommitted Bishop.
Ovechkin, who scored only twice in his first 10 games this season, and 17 goals in his past 15.
Notes: Washington C Mike Ribeiro had an assist for his 600th career point. ... Capitals F Martin Erat returned after missing three games with a lower body injury, but F Brooks Laich (groin) and F Joel Ward (lower body) remain sidelined. ... Lightning D Victor Hedman returned after missing four games with a lower body injury.