The Tampa Bay Lightning did a lot of good on Tuesday, but it was not enough to overcome one bad penalty that resulted in one ugly loss.
Tampa Bay scored a season high for goals on the road, but Alex Ovechkin enjoyed a four-goal night as Washington rallied from deficits of three goals, two goals and one goal before taking a 6-5 shootout decision in front of an announced crowd of 18,506 at Verizon Center.
Troy Brouwer scored the deciding goal in the fifth round as Washington won the shootout 3-2.
The Lightning are winless (0-4-2) in the past six road games. After starting the season 6-0 in overtime/shootouts, Tampa Bay has lost the past three games that have gone past regulation.
Ovechkin notched his 13th career hat trick and his fourth goal tied the game with 32.4 seconds left in regulation. Nicklas Backstrom finished with a goal and five points.
Marty St. Louis and Tyler Johnson each had a goal and two assists for Tampa Bay. Ben Bishop finished with 26 saves, allowing a season-high tying five goals.
But despite holding leads of 3-0, 4-2 and 5-4, the Lightning failed to slow down Ovechkin, who scored two of his goals during a five-minute continuous power play after Richard Panik was called for a boarding major at 16:31 of the second period with the Lightning up by two goals.
“This is a game we should have won. We had that game ... a bunch of times we had that game and we just couldn’t close it,’’ St. Louis said. “Everybody in the building knows where the puck is going, No. 8, that’s his shot. Obviously we didn’t do a good enough job of taking it away from him.’’
Tampa Bay built an early 3-0 lead in the first 12 minutes, getting power-play goals from St. Louis and Nikita Kucherov before Nate Thompson scored on a 2-on-1 rush at 11:07, 18 seconds after Kucherov scored, for the three-goal lead before the Capitals registered a shot on goal to chase starter Braden Holtby, who was replaced in net by rookie Philipp Grubauer. St. Louis’ power-play goal at 2:26 ended Tampa Bay’s scoreless drought on the road at 139 minutes, 39 seconds.
Ovechkin then scored off a one-timer from a faceoff win by Backstrom at 14:14, which came on Washington’s third shot of the game.
Backstrom scored a power-play goal 6:24 into the second to make it 3-2. But Johnson found a rebound to regain a two-goal lead at 12:41 to stifle the Capitals’ momentum.
But Panik, back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch the two previous games, hit Karl Alzner from behind and into the boards for the major penalty at 16:31. Ovechkin scored twice on the ensuing continuous power play — including seven seconds into the man advantage on a backdoor play coming down the left side — to tie it at 4 heading into the third period.
“I was backchecking and I tried to finish the (check), but I was a little behind and it’s a bad penalty,’’ Panik said. “I feel really bad. I put the team in a bad spot, a bad situation. I feel really bad about it. ... it can’t happen in a game, and hopefully it’s not going to happen again. I should have just taken a couple of more strides, hit him clean and then everything would be OK.’’
Even with the game tied, the Lightning remained aggressive (they outshot Washington 15-7 in the third), regained the lead on Palat’s goal at 8:36 and looked primed to get out of town with the victory.
But Ovechkin once again set up shop at the left circle and fired home a one-timer with 32.4 seconds left to tie it at 5.
“Let’s face it, you can’t leave No. 8 in that area. ... He didn’t even have to work for his goals,’’ Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “He didn’t move on the first one, he didn’t move on the last two. So if you are going to let that guy take shots, this sometimes is going to happen. And that’s the disappointing part.”
Ovechkin was finally stopped in the shootout, but Eric Fehr, Mikail Grabovski and Brouwer converted their attempts. Kucherov and Teddy Purcell scored on their shootout attempts.
“We did good things, but good things don’t mean much if you can’t close it out.’’