NHL Game Night: 2-18-12 Capitals at Lightning

I feel like Michael Corleone.

WSH-1
TB-2

Mathieu Garon allowed 1 goal on 24 shots for the victory, as the Lightning continue to defy odds.

First Period
TB Pyatt (6), (Purcell), 2:10

Second Period
TB Stamkos (40), (unassisted), 1:50
WSH Laich (11), (Perrault, Semin), 9:31

Third Period
NO SCORING

Steven Stamkos, Mathieu Garon, and Teddy Purcell were the game's three stars.

As against the Sharks, the Lighting remind us all that hockey games aren't played on paper, they're played on ice. With the Lightning trading Pavel Kubina just before the game to Philadelphia, you would think the team would be demoralized. You would think the team would be dispirited. You would think they wouldn't have a chance against a Caps team that has humiliated them more times than not in the regular season (playoffs, we own them, though).

Nope. The Lightning go out and win, and in fact pretty easily could've had another couple of goals were it not for some lucky bounces. Tomas Vokoun must be living right. Like Pacino said, "Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in." This team should be dead meat and setting up tee times, but somehow they've now pulled to within 6 points of 8th place, thanks to Toronto being humiliated 6-2 by the Canucks.

The downside is, the Lightning are tied with the Canadiens and Islanders, and they have Winnipeg and Washington to still hop over just to get to the Leafs. But, the Lightning have games in hand on the Leafs and Canadiens, and 2 games in hand on the Jets. And, they have head-to-head matchups left, too. They have 2 against Toronto, 2 against Washington, 3 against Winnipeg, 1 against the Islanders, and 2 against Montreal. So, while you can't say definitively the Lightning control their own destiny, you can say that the scenario is set up ahead of them to thread the needle and get into the playoffs if they keep winning. They have the opportunity, at the very least, to do something unbelievable, and in classic Lightning fashion, they seem to be playing their best hockey when they're the underdog and no one outside of a 1/4 mile radius of their locker room believes they have a shot in hell. I am intrigued at the possibilities, especially with Stammer on the hunt for his second Richard Trophy and possibly his first Art Ross, too.

J.T. Wyman played 5:00 even.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.