For the second straight game, one of the biggest positives for the Capitals was the play of their young goaltender. On Wednesday night, it was Semyon Varlamov's turn to impress and keep the possibility of a Washington comeback within reach by preventing the Lightning from taking a substantial early lead.
Varlamov finished with 35 saves against Tampa Bay and although it was a bit of a rocky start, -- the first two goals came on rebounds when the puck appeared to be bouncing freely -- he was able to buckle down and grow more composed as the game went on.
"I thought he played real good," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "Especially when they got to 2-0 in the second period, they had those power-play opportunities, it was like he clamped down and said: 'I'm going to save the team. I'm not going to allow that next one.' He made some really good saves."
Tampa Bay Coach Guy Boucher also offered praise of the 22-year-old who held his team scoreless in regulation in the teams' meeting on Jan. 4.
"I think their goaltender played outstanding," Boucher said. "He got 40 shots in there and I think our power play got so many chances and I felt one of them was going to go in, but give credit to the goalie. He's been outstanding for them, so that's amazing. He's done it again tonight and is pretty hard to beat. So I'm quite pleased about beating that goaltender three times [Wednesday]."
Although it was Varlamov who appeared to have the upper hand over Michal Neuvirth in the ongoing battle to become the Capitals' No. 1 netminder, heading into this week's schedule it appears that if both goaltenders are healthy, this is still very much anyone's job to claim.