TAMPA, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Lightning fulfilled coach Guy Boucher’s plan for starting the season after a shortened training camp.
Martin St. Louis and Eric Brewer each scored two goals as the Lightning beat the Washington Capitals 6-3 in the season opener for both teams Saturday night. The Lightning broke a tie by scoring three unanswered goals in the third period.
“I really believe in game shape and chemistry … we focused so much on it,” Boucher said. “You could feel it at the end of the second period. I really believe that was the difference.”
NHL teams had around just one week of formal preseason work after the four-month lockout ended earlier this month, but the Lightning appeared on top of their game.
St. Louis added an assist, while Vincent Lecavalier and Cory Conacher also scored goals for the Lightning.
Joel Ward scored twice and Wojtek Wolski also had a goal for the Capitals, who lost in Adam Oates’ NHL coaching debut.
“I think some of the mistakes came from conditioning,” Oates said. “We got tired at times. The game went in waves.”
St. Louis’ drive from above the left circle during a 5-on-3 power play gave Tampa Bay a 4-3 advantage at 4:47 of the third.
“5-on-3, at that time of the game, you’ve got to score,” St. Louis said. “If you don’t score, it might haunt you.”
Conacher, who had an assist in his first NHL game, scored his first goal to extend the lead to 5-3 with 6:36 to go. Brewer scored his second goal late in the third.
The announced crowd for the first Tampa Bay home game this season was a sellout of 19,204.
The Lightning went ahead 3-2 on St. Louis’ power-play goal from the low slot off a pass from Lecavalier at 5:11 of the second. St. Louis has 25 goals and 71 points in 69 career games against Washington.
Wolski made it 3-all while both teams had a player in the penalty box with 1:45 left in the second.
Ward scored his second goal to tie it at 2 just 1:59 into the second during a delayed penalty. The right wing didn’t have a goal in his final 13 games last season.
“You always hope to contribute, for sure,” Ward said. “You’re not going to go out there and say I’m going to score five or anything, but you try to finish your opportunities if you can. I was fortunate to get a couple.”
Tampa Bay took a 1-0 lead when Brewer stopped a personal 50-game goal drought from the top of the left circle at 6:24 of the first.
After Ward’s in-close goal 8:25 into the game, coming on the Capitals’ third straight power play, Lecavalier put the Lightning ahead 2-1 just 44 seconds later.
Capitals defenceman Tom Poti played in an NHL game for the first time since Jan. 12, 2011, and had an assist. Poti has battled physical issues, including a lingering groin injury, over the last two years.
Washington star Alex Ovechkin was held without a point. He took all four of his shots in the first.
Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos, who had a league-best 60 goals last season, picked up two assists. Teddy Purcell had three assists.
“We emphasized that we wanted to start the year quick in a shortened season, and we were able to do that,” Stamkos said.
Notes: Injured Washington C Brooks Laich did not make the trip. … Lecavalier played in his 999th NHL game. … Oates said Ovechkin will be the team captain this season. The assistant captains are Laich, C Nicklas Backstrom and D Mike Green. … Lightning D Mattias Ohlund, who didn’t play last season because of knee injuries, is starting the year on injured reserve. He could also miss all of this season. … Capitals D Jack Hillen was shaken up after a hard hit in the second by Lecavalier. Hillen, who has an undisclosed upper body injury, was able to skate off the ice on his own.