Overtime Goal Keeps Capitals In the Hunt

By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 28, 2008

TAMPA, March 27 -- Washington Capitals winger Tomas Fleischmann had not recorded a goal or assist in a month.

He picked a fine time to end that drought.

Fleischmann capped a dramatic comeback with a goal in overtime to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning, 4-3, and help the Capitals keep pace in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

With the injury-plagued Boston Bruins beating the Toronto Maple Leafs, 4-2, Washington didn't gain any ground in the tightly contested race for the eighth and final playoff berth. But thanks to a late goal in regulation by Alexander Semin and what likely was the biggest goal of Fleischmann's career, they didn't lose any, either.

"Seems like I'm just waiting to play against the Lightning," joked Fleischmann, who has scored four of his nine career goals against Tampa Bay. "I didn't think about when was my last point. I just kept working hard and going to the net -- and today it works."

Cristobal Huet earned his fifth straight win with a 23-save effort, while his Lightning counterpart, Karri Ramo, made 28 saves.

But Ramo was helpless to stop Fleischmann. Ramo had sprawled in an attempt to freeze the puck in the slot, but Brooks Laich (goal, assist) pulled away the puck and zipped a pass to Fleischmann.

Fleischmann fired it into a wide-open net at 2 minutes 27 seconds, setting off a wild celebration on the ice and on the home bench. On the play, Lightning defenseman Dan Boyle suffered a cut on his neck from Capitals defenseman Mike Green's skate during a pileup. Boyle was bleeding but did not require stitches.

"I got a skate in the throat, so I really didn't see much," Boyle said. "I was pretty scared for my life, really."

Added Laich, who netted his 20th goal of the season in the first period: "We're in a dogfight here. We're desperate. We're hungry."

Laich, however, wouldn't have had the chance to set up Fleischmann's winner had Semin not tied the game at 3 with 4:48 remaining in regulation. Semin snapped a shot past Ramo after Sergei Fedorov won a faceoff cleanly.

"We're creating our own breaks," said Fedorov, who had two assists.

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