Alex Semin and Matt Hendricks scored in the shootout and the Capitals got some timely regulation scoring to overcome a shaky outing from new goaltender Tomas Vokoun, beating the Tampa Bay Lightning in overtime, 6-5.
In the first meeting of the division rivals since the Lightning eliminated the Caps in the Eastern Conference Semifinals in four games this spring, many correctly predicted this game would be full of sparks, with both teams combining for 10 regulation goals and 12 penalties. Caps and Lightning traded goals twice in the first period with forward Marcus Johansson, who roared out of the gate after being benched for the season opener, and defenseman Dennis Wideman notching their first goals of the season for the good guys.
The seesaw battle continued through the second period, where Troy Brouwer buried a Jeff Schulz feed to tie the game up at 3 after a Dominic Moore goal earlier in the period. The Caps jumped out to a 4-3 lead four minutes into the third after Jason Chimera deftly cleaned up a Brooks Laich rebound in front of the net. Two Lightning goals later, the Caps were staring down a 5-4 deficit as time wound down. With less than three minutes to go, Jason Chimera stepped into the hero’s shoes and intercepted a misplaced Tampa pass at the offensive zone faceoff dot, turned and fired a shot past aging Tampa goalie Dwayne Roloson to even the score at five and record his second goal of the evening.
There are a number of takeaways from this game. On the positive side, the win showed a lot of character, with the Caps battling back from a number of deficits – previous iterations of this team might not have responded so positively to such adversity. The Caps also got a number of goals from their role players, with none of the first line recording even a point until the Semin shootout goal, validating some of their offseason acquisitions. Goaltending was a mixed bag on the evening, as Vokoun, who stopped 23 of 28 shots on the night, let in a number of questionable shots early, but rallied with a stalwart performance in overtime and the shooting, stoning the Lightning. “Vokoun was very candid after the game saying “they literally won today without goaltending,’” according to Sky Kerstein of 106.7 The Fan. A number of questionable coaching decisions also hurt the Caps. A blatant too many men on the ice penalty with a minute to go in overtime left the Caps reeling, but they were able to kill the penalty to move to the shootout.
Next Game: @ Pittsburgh Penguins, 7pm, Thursday October 13th.