The Veteran's Day meeting between Southeastern Conference rivals Tampa Bay and Washington started off fast and furious. In the opening minutes, Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier thought he had buried the puck but the stripes called no goal. Upon review, it was plain as day that the puck clinked off the post but did not cross the line behind Michal Neuvirth. As a matter of fact, the posts were Neuvy's BFF's in the early going as the Lightning later lost another goal to the iron bar. The boys welcomed back defense man Tom Poti, who's been on the shelf for weeks with a groin injury. Teddy Purcell got the Bolts on the board first at 9:27 of the opening period. Meanwhile, the visitors were the recipients of practically back-to-back power plays as Mike Knuble was whistled for roughing, then John Carlson took a delay of game. The boys killed both penalties off but they were still struggling to clear the puck away from their own goal. They were also outshot by the Lightning 13-8 with Alex Semin getting the better of any scoring opportunities.
First Period: Lightning 1 - Caps 0
As has been the trend, the Caps didn't stay off the board for long. Mere minutes into the middle stanza, Tom Poti netted his first of the season - a nifty backhand shot with the assists coming from Semin and Backstrom. Not too shabby for a first game back - welcome back sir! The Caps were then swarming Dan Ellis like the plague and Mike Knuble scored another beauty at 7:51, from BEHIND the net no less. The boys went shorthanded once again as Brooks Laich was sent to the sin bin for interference and the Capitals penalty kill unit went on to take care of business, with plenty of help from their young net minder. Tempers flared later in the period as Matt Bradley laid a clean, tooth-rattling hit on Mike Lundin, then had to answer the bell with Adam Hall (what is this, Mini Mite hockey where you can't hit? Seriously). As he always does, the Professor dropped his mitts and got the better of Hall and actually emerged without looking like he'd gone three rounds with a chain saw. Way to go Bradley!
Second Period: Capitals 2 - Lightning 1
The third period saw the lamp light up like the National Christmas tree for both teams. Former Penguin Ryan Malone opened it up for the visitors. Two minutes later, Alex Semin was tripped up by Dominic Moore and let's just say Sasha made the Bolts pay. Not only did the red hot sniper score on the resulting power play, but also notched a second tally with a sizzler at 10:46. You knew it was going to be next to impossible to keep Steven Stamkos off the score sheet and the young star brought his team to within a point with his third period goal. But three minutes later, it was lights out for the Bolts as Alex Semin got the puck to his pal Ovi who blasted Dan Ellis with the Caps' fourth goal. Sasha topped off the win with the empty net goal for the hat trick and a stellar five-point night. Salut! Nick Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin both had outstanding performances as well, with four points for #19 and three for our captain. Michal Neuvirth had another active night, stopping 38 shots against a talented Tampa Bay team. After sleepwalking through the first period, the cardiac Caps stormed back and captured a huge home win for their sixth straight victory!
FINAL: Capitals 6 - Lightning 3