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Feb 22, 2024 10:10 pm

Late goals lift surging Capitals past Lightning

lightning

Rasmus Sandin scored the tiebreaking goal with 4:59 left in regulation and the revitalized Washington Capitals opened their two-game trip in Florida with a 5-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday.

Skating in the high slot, Sandin collected a pass from Aliaksei Protas, who was behind the Lightning net, and buried his third goal — all in the past nine games — for the game-winner.

Connor McMichael recorded his second consecutive two-goal game, one into an empty net, and Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Anthony Mantha potted goals for Washington. Dylan Strome and Tom Wilson had two assists apiece.

Alex Ovechkin moved his point streak to 11 games with an assist as the Capitals won for the third straight time and improved to 4-1-1 in the past six. Washington goaltender Charlie Lindgren made 29 saves.

Capitals forward T.J. Oshie spun and fell to the ice in a non-contact incident with 8:06 left in the game and had to be helped to the dressing room.

Tampa Bay got goals from Brandon Hagel, who extended his point streak to 11 games, and Nicholas Paul and Tyler Motte but lost for the third consecutive time at home and finished 1-3-0 on its homestand.

The NHL’s leading points producer, Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov, had an assist for his 95th point. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 19 shots.

Aube-Kubel opened the scoring at 2:30 of the first period. He cleverly played the puck off the half-boards around Kucherov and to himself, deked defenseman Emil Martinsen Lilleberg in the right circle and beat Vasilevskiy with a backhander.

Late in the opening period, Wilson forced a turnover in the offensive end with a heavy hit on Tampa Bay defenseman Haydn Fleury behind the net. McMichael then took a pass from Joel Edmundson and whipped home a shot at 16:19 for a 2-0 lead.

Fleury did not return for the match’s final two periods.

In the second, Hagel gave his club life when he ripped in his 21st at 9:16 to extend his point streak

However, he lost a board battle in the neutral zone that the Capitals cashed in on when Strome fed Mantha for his 18th goal for a 3-1 edge at 12:14 of the second.

In an explosive start to the third, Paul (15th goal) and Motte (fifth) gave tied the contest with tallies at 2:42 and 3:06, respectively.

Strome deflected in a shot just over a minute later. However, the Lightning challenged, Mantha was ruled offside and goal was disallowed.

Following Sandin’s winner, McMichael capped the scoring at 18:58.

–Field Level Media

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