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Saturday, Sep 23, 2017
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Tampa Bay Lightning

Bolts top Capitals in OT for fifth straight win

TAMPA - Mathieu Garon provided the spark, first knocking down a Troy Brouwer shot and kicking out a Brooks Laich follow-up attempt before poking the puck forward onto the stick of Marty St. Louis. The play allowed St. Louis to spring Steven Stamkos up the ice. Stamkos fed back to St. Louis inside the offensive zone, where he snapped a shot on goal that wound up caroming into the crease at the right post.  Stamkos swooped in and knocked in the rebound to cap off Tampa Bay's 4-3 overtime victory against the Washington Capitals on Tuesday. The goal sent the announced crowd of 17,754 at The Forum into a state of frenzy as the Lightning won a season-best fifth consecutive game. Nate Thompson, Teddy Purcell and St. Louis also scored, while the game-winner was the league-leading 33rd of the season for Stamkos. Despite blowing a two-goal lead, Tampa Bay was able to gain two valuable points in the standings.
Garon made 26 saves, while picking up his first assist of the season on the winning goal. "That's what the game is about sometimes, the momentum shifts when you make a save at one end, that (sort of goal) happens at the other end,'' said Garon, who has six assists in 309 career games. "But that's probably my first (game-winning assist). I don't know, I don't really keep track of those things.'' The play proved pivotal in protecting Tampa Bay's longest winning streak of the season. The victory allowed the Lightning to cut the deficit in the Southeast Division to eight points behind Washington as well as eight points behind Toronto for the eighth spot in the conference. And despite the point Tampa Bay gave away to the Capitals, who rallied from down two goals to force overtime, the Lightning gladly will take the two points anyway they come right now. "I think maybe down the road we'll care, but we just want to win games right now and we'll take them anyway we can get them,'' said Stamkos, who has six game-winning goals on the season. "We certainly are not complaining that we gave Washington one point tonight. And we have some other teams to catch as well so we are going to take every point that we can get.'' As Tampa Bay has rolled along the past five games, it has stayed on task and hasn't panicked even when things have gone awry. That was certainly the case once again Tuesday as consecutive goals by Purcell — his fourth in four games — St. Louis and Thompson turned a one-goal deficit into a two-goal lead. But an own goal off the stick of Thompson and a poor giveaway by Matt Gilroy coming up the middle from behind his own goal allowed the Capitals to pull even at 5:53 of the third period. "Even when they scored that fifth goal, I kept saying on the bench, 'Be in the moment, be in the moment, it's not what just happened, it's what we are going to do,' '' head coach Guy Boucher said. "We weren't scared to lose, we were hungry to win.'' Winning has been the case of late as the current streak comes on the heels of a seven-game winless streak to start the month. It's plays like Tuesday that need to keep happening to help keep things moving in an upward direction. "If we can just manage to keep playing our game and keep moving forward, I think we'll be all right,'' Thompson said.

eerlendsson@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7835

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