In a game that only be described as fugly, the Tampa Bay Lightning finally got a "W" (their last one coming in November of 2007) against the rival Capitals. HM was a bit under the weather last night, so apologizes for the lack of minute-by-minute coverage of the game, which turned out to be extraordinarily entertaining in the final stanza. The Caps' defense certainly suffered their share of brain gas last night, seemingly unable to clear the blasted puck out their zone and giving the Lightning a 4-1 advantage in the first period alone, courtesy of the dapper Vinny LeCavalier, Steven Stamkos (2 goals) and Stephane Vellieux. Alex Semin scored the lone tally for the visitors in the opening period. Now while Vinny LeCavalier is not putting up the kind of impressive numbers we've seen from him in seasons past, he is still a force to be reckoned with, as his is pint-sized pal Martin St. Louis, who netted his own rocket in the second period. Michal Neuvirth was yanked from the net for the Caps after the first period and Theo stepped in for relief.
While the visitors cut this game close several times thanks to goals by Semin, Mike Green (2) and Eric Fehr, they shot themselves in the foot by taking a ridiculous number of penalties (including an uncharacteristic cross check from Nick Backstrom). Gabby's head must have been ready to explode post-game for sure - I can only imagine. The Bolts' power play opportunities contributed greatly to their final goal tally of 7 - with three of those coming from the man-advantage.
But everything started to unravel late in the third, just as HM was starting to doze. Enraged by the lack of a slashing call on former Flyer thug Steve Downie, Alex Ovechkin took justice into his own hands and laid a thundering hit on Downie at his first opportunity. Downie retaliated and part two of the drama started there, with both players going to the sin bin to chillax for a few. But after their release, Downie kept instigating and our captain threw down his gloves and was more than ready to go with the tough Bolts enforcer. Hey, Flames captain Jerome Iginla has been known to throw them down once in awhile! But Matt Bradley would have none of that, and like Clark Kent out of the phone booth, swooped in out of nowhere to spar with Downie on behalf of his captain! After a referee roundtable that seemed to last longer than the current congressional health care debate, Brads was ejected from the game (but a huge Hockey Mom high-five to one of my favorite players for dancing with that nasty Downie character)!
But the shenanigans didn't stop there - in addition to lots of extracurricular activities after just about every whistle in the final period, David Steckel got into a little bout of his own with a Lightning Bolt. Final score: Lightning 7 - Caps 4.
Let's hope the boys keep their wits about them and remember one of the keys to a penalty kill is clearing that black rubber puck as far away from your goalie as possible as they meet the Florida Panthers tonight. Good news from the Panthers team - David Booth, who I've mentioned was the knock out victim of an absolutely brutal hit from Flyers captain Mike Richards early in the season, recently returned to non-contact on-ice practice. I am keeping my fingers crossed that he makes it all the way back!
Meanwhile, if you missed the fisticuffs during last night's wacky contest, take a look: