The Washington Capitals invested plenty both emotionally and physically in last night's game against Tampa Bay, and although they lost in overtime, 1-0, a handful of players took some solace knowing the team played well defensively and gets another crack at the Lightning soon.
After coming out a bit flat in the early going in their first game since the Winter Classic, the Capitals finally began picking up the pace in the second period and really began pouring it on in the third against Tampa Bay goalie Dwayne Roloson, acquired Saturday night from the New York Islanders.
But Roloson, 41, was just too good in his first game since joining his new team, stopping one shot off the side of his arm that appeared headed for the goal late in the game. Roloson made 34 saves in all, and Tampa Bay broke a tie with Washington for the Southeast Division lead.
Capitals goalie Semyon Varlamov matched Roloson virtually save for save, finishing with 37 stops, but he left a rebound off Vinny Lecavalier's overtime shot that Martin St. Louis buried at 2 minutes 54 seconds to end a game that featured ample hitting, one fight and no shortage of bad blood.
"Definitely," forward Matt Hendricks said when asked if playing Tampa Bay again on Wednesday helps the team get over this loss a bit more quickly. "You want to play the best, and they're playing really well right now, so we look forward to that adventure."
Hendricks was part of a second-period fracas with the Lightning's Steve Downie that drew fighting majors for both players. Hendricks had Downie pinned to the boards in the Tampa Bay offensive zone and wouldn't let go, and the two eventually began taking swings at one another. As they were exchanging blows, Downie pulled Hendricks's jersey over his head, and officials soon stepped in.
The two continued an animated verbal confrontation from the penalty box, with Downie yelling, "Real tough." Hendricks, meantime, appeared to tell Downie he'd be ready when the teams play again next week.
The Capitals' final three games against the Lightning are on the road after the teams played the first three games at Verizon Center. Washington had been stout on offense and defense in the first two meetings, winning both by a combined 12-3.
"They're a great team. They're near us in the standings," defenseman John Carlson said before correcting himself. "They're ahead of us in the standings now, I think, but we're going to have go into their building and do the job there."
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