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WASHINGTON — Vincent Lecavalier scored his second goal of the game 6:19 into overtime, and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the top-seeded Washington Capitals 3-2 Sunday night for a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Fifth-seeded Tampa Bay appeared headed for a much simpler victory, leading 2-1 in the third period, but two-time NHL MVP Alex Ovechkin forced the extra period by scoring with 67 seconds left in regulation.
Dwayne Roloson made 35 saves as the Lightning won their fifth consecutive game — and their fifth in a row on the road.
The series now shifts to Tampa for Game 3 on Tuesday, followed by Game 4 the next night.
On the winning goal, the Lightning caught the Capitals in the middle of a line change. Tampa Bay defenseman Randy Jones — playing in his first game this postseason because of an injury to Pavel Kubina in Game 1 — sent a long pass off the boards to Teddy Purcell. He then passed it across the ice to Lecavalier, who flipped the puck over rookie goalie Michal Neuvirth to end the game.
Taking a page out of Ovechkin’s celebration playbook, Lecavalier jumped into the glass behind the net before being surrounded by teammates.
Martin St. Louis’ goal put Tampa Bay ahead 2-1 about 7½ minutes into the third period, before Ovechkin recorded his first point of the series. Brooks Laich scored for Washington in the second period.
Washington’s power play went 0 for 6 and is 0 for 11 in the series. Part of that was due to the Capitals’ own problems, but a lot of credit also must go to Roloson and the Lightning, who have been absolutely superb in penalty killing.
In this postseason, the Lightning have turned aside 45 of 46 short-handed situations.
Tampa Bay might be feeling pretty good about things, given that it can wrap up the series by winning twice at home. Then again, both teams know from recent experience that a two-game series deficit is hardly insurmountable.
Tampa Bay trailed Pittsburgh 3-1 in the first round before taking three games in a row to eliminate the Penguins. And it was just last season that the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Capitals blew a 3-1 lead against the eighth-seeded Montreal Canadiens and were upset in seven games.