TAMPA, Fla. – Alex Ovechkin was impressive after a one week absence.
Ovechkin scored two goals in his return from a two-game suspension and the Washington Capitals beat the Tampa Bay Lightning for the 12th consecutive time, 3-0 on Monday night.
“The first period I was just trying to get into the game,” Ovechkin said. “I understand I didn’t play for two games, so I think my teammates did a great job trying to get the puck to me.”
Ovechkin was suspended by the NHL following a kneeing penalty Nov. 30 against Carolina. Both of his goals came during the Capitals’ three-goal second.
“I thought he was a little rusty and he wasn’t moving his legs, as most us weren’t in the first period,” Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said. “We started moving our legs, we started getting chances to score.”
Semyon Varlamov, who turned aside a spinning backhander by Vincent Lecavalier in the second, finished with 26 saves. The Washington goalie is 12-1-2 with two shutouts this season.
“I think the world will start to get to know him as the season progresses,” Boudreau said of the 21-year old Varlamov. “He’s going to be a special athlete.”
Eric Fehr also scored for Capitals, who set a team record with the 12-game winning streak against the Lightning. Washington won 11 in a row against the New York Islanders from March 1998 to March 2000.
“We have a good roll against them,” Capitals right wing Chris Clark said. “But any game can go any way, so I don’t think it shows that much.”
Tampa Bay has lost five of six. Some of the Lightning’s top players, including Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos, played limited shifts during the third.
Lightning coach Rick Tocchet did not take part in a post-game media session, and was replaced by associate coach Rick Wilson.
Wilson didn’t know why Tocchet sat down the key players.
St. Louis said “No, obviously” when asked if the core players provided enough production.
“We were pretty good in the first. The second and third we just stopped playing and didn’t do the things we were talking about,” Lightning defenceman Andrej Meszaros said.
Ovechkin put Washington ahead 1-0 from the left circle off a pass through the slot from Alexander Semin at 7:39 of the second. He made it 3-0 on a power-play goal with 24.1 seconds left in the second.
The Capitals went up 2-0 on Fehr’s goal at 12:32 of the second. He has five goals and 10 points during a career-high seven-game point streak.
Boudreau is 12-0 against the Lightning. The Eastern Conference-leading Capitals have a six-game winning streak.
NOTES: Tampa Bay hasn’t beaten Washington since Nov. 16, 2007. … Capitals D Shaone Morrisonn (concussion) returned after missing eight games. … Semin had two assists and has six assists and eight points in his last three games. He has 10 multipoint games this season. … Washington RW Matt Bradley left the team to be with his wife for the birth of their first child. … The Capitals assigned D Karl Alzner to Hershey of the AHL.