NHL Game Day: 1-31-10 Lightning at Capitals

The Lightning come within an eyelash of taking a point away from a very fired up Capitals team.

TB-2
WSH-3

Mike Smith allowed 3 goals on 31 shots for the loss. What a tough spot to be put in for your first game back. "So, uh, Smitty. You got the Caps tonight. They've won 9 in a row and they're super angry the way we whipped them last time we played them. Go get 'em tiger!" Give credit to Smith for battling and giving the Lightning a serious chance to get points out of this one.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
WSH 0:57, Backstrom 23 (Ovechkin, Fleischmann)(PP)
WSH 12:56, Laich 16 (Semin, Fleischmann)

Third Period
TB 5:00, St. Louis 16 (Foster, Stamkos)
TB 7:42, Stamkos 29 (Foster, St. Louis)(PP)
WSH 13:34, Ovechkin 35 (Backstrom, Poti)

There's no such thing as a moral victory, and I doubt the club feels very good about losing a point with under 10 to play. But, watching this game out of the corner of my eye while the Norfolk game was on, you could tell the Caps came out with playoff intensity and they were out there to try to embarass the Lightning after Tampa Bay spanked them so badly in the last meeting they had. For the most part, the Lightning handled the Caps' surges and they blocked a ton of shots to keep the overall shot total close at 31-27 even though they got outchanced. And, they played opportunistic hockey in the third and capitalized on a key power play opportunity that almost was enough to steal a point out of the capitol city. In other words, even in defeat, the Lightning managed to let Washnington know the last game in Tampa was not a fluke. The gap is closing in the Southeast.

How long has it been since a Lightning game didn't have a prospect in it? It's the first time in about a season and a half, at least, with Paul Szczechura being sent to the Admirals for a brief conditioning stint. On a somewhat related note, it'll be interesting to see if the Lightning send some reinforcements like Szczechura to Norfolk over the Olympic break to see if they can aid in the Admirals' own quest for the playoffs.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.