As furious as I am that the referees made this game last far longer than it should have, how can you not love Secret Weapon 74 for the winner?
For a guy who statistically allowed 4 goals on 27 shots, Johan Holmqvist played a pretty amazing game. True, his friend the crossbar played a part throughout the game, but to make critical stop after critical stop in the 3rd period and overtime and then put down a 10 for 10 perfect stand in the shootout is amazing. Holmqvist's record remains perfect in shootouts and only 1 shooter, just 1, has found the back of the net against Holmer all season.
Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier each scored 1 goal and 2 assists in the game as the Lightning stormed back out of a 2 goal hole late in the second period to once again claim a key win in a close game. Ruslan Fedotenko got the comeback ball rolling with a critical individual effort for a goal with under a minute remaining in the second period and Vaclav Prospal added the other Lightning talley. Nick Tarnasky, the night's hero, added an individual helper as did Cory Sarich and Shane O'Brien. The assist was O'Brien's first point as a member of the Lightning (the first of many, knock on wood).
St. Louis' goal with 3:18 left in regulation looked like the winner before the referees began a bizarre string of borderline calls that put the Lightning down at a 6-on-3 disadvantage in the waning moments. As if that wasn't enough, one of the referees also blocked a Brad Richards attempt on the empty net just moments before Washington sent the game to overtime with under 11 seconds on the clock on a centering attempt that deflected in off of Nolan Pratt. The ridiculousness continued in overtime as the referees overlooked a hold by a Caps defender on Martin St. Louis in overtime only moments later to call a hook on Vincent Lecavalier. Undeterred, the Lightning stonewalled a full 2 minute 4-on-3 penalty in overtime to eventually deliver the game to the shootout. Someone needs to be reprimanded for what occured in that game.
Fortunately, after 10 rounds of shootout madness that included the unbridled excitment that is a Donald Brashear penalty shot, Tarnasky decided to pull the plug on the Caps with a wrister that beat Brent Johnson and lifted the Lightning to the 5-4 win. With the victory, the Lightning move 4 points ahead of Atlanta in the division with the Thrashers now holding a game in hand. The gap on Carolina also extends to 7 with both teams having played 66 games. Thank you Nick Tarnasky.
Washington 11:35, Shaone Morrisonn 3 (Milan Jurcina, Tomas Fleischmann)
Tampa Bay 2:17, Vaclav Prospal 10 (Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis)
Washington 10:11, Alexander Ovechkin 38 (Jiri Novotny, Steve Eminger)
Washington 14:04, Matt Pettinger 15 (Boyd Gordon, Matt Bradley)
Tampa Bay 19:32, Ruslan Fedotenko 12 (Nick Tarnasky, Cory Sarich)
Tampa Bay 12:44, Vincent Lecavalier 42 (shorthanded) (Martin St. Louis)
Tampa Bay 16:42, Martin St. Louis 39 (Vincent Lecavalier, Shane O'Brien)
Washington 19:49, Alexander Semin 33 (power play) (Alexander Ovechkin, Kris Beech)
Tampa Bay- Nick Tarnasky
Game sheet from NHL.com.