Nick Tarnasky scored the lone shootout goal in the 10th round, goalie Johan Holmqvist was perfect during the tiebreaker and the Lightning opened their longest road trip of the season with a 5-4 victory over the Washington Capitals on Thursday night. Tarnasky sent a low shot between Brent Johnson’s pads to help the Lightning improve to 10-1 in shootouts. It was Tarnasky’s first career shootout attempt.
“Not just in the NHL – my first ever as a pro,” Tarnasky said. “All I’m thinking is ‘I’ve got one move, I’m going to try it and I hope it works.”‘
Washington is 1-10 in shootouts, but Johnson did his part to keep the Lightning at bay in the tiebreaker, using his pads to make five saves and gobbling up Ruslan Fedotenko’s low shot in the sixth round.
“I’m pro shootout,” Johnson said. “I think it’s great for the fans (and) it’s fun for us. It hasn’t been that rewarding for us this year. … There are so many losses in the shootout this year I can’t even remember how many it is.”
Holmqvist – who is 6-0 in shootouts and has made 26 saves in 27 attempts this year – was equally adept with his legs, blocking six Washington attempts. He turned away Matt Bradley’s drive with his stick before Tarnasky ended it, then couldn’t bring himself to watch the decisive try.
“Tonight it was a long one. … I was just trying to stay focused,” said Holmqvist, who has won 13 of 17 starts. “I barely wanted to watch our guys. I was trying to stay in the zone and be ready for the next one.”
“Unbelievable,” Tarnasky said. “I don’t know how he does that. It’s pretty phenomenal to stop that many shots in a row and not even have a close one.”
Holmqvist’s heroics followed a furious finish in regulation. With 3:18 left, Martin St. Louis scored to give the Lightning a 4-3 lead, taking a pass from Vincent Lecavalier, getting a step on Milan Jurcina in the slot and poking in a falling-down shot past Johnson.
But Alexander Semin tied it with 10.9 seconds left, on a left-post attempt that went in off defenceman Nolan Pratt’s stick. The Capitals had pulled Johnson and were on a two-man power-play for a 6-on-3 advantage.
Vaclav Prospal, Fedotenko and Lecavalier also scored in regulation for the Lightning in the first game of a six-game trip. Tampa Bay has points in 10 of 11 road games, going 9-1-1 in that span.
Shaone Morrisonn, Alex Ovechkin and Matt Pettinger also had goals in regulation for the Capitals, who have lost three straight and eight of nine.
Morrisonn swept in a left-point shot for just as a slashing penalty on Tim Taylor expired for a 1-0 Washington lead 11:35 into the game.
Tampa Bay tied the game early in the second period, when Lecavalier’s shot from the top of the zone caromed off two players in front of the goal and to Prospal, who beat Johnson from the right circle.
Ovechkin’s team-high 38th goal gave Washington the lead at 10:11. Jiri Novotny, acquired from Buffalo on Tuesday in a deal for Dainius Zubrus, passed out of the right corner to Ovechkin, who beat Holmqvist to the glove side.
Pettinger tallied at 14:04, pulling a loose puck out of the crease and scoring from the left side. Before the shot, Holmqvist had failed to corral the bouncing puck, and defenceman Dan Boyle whiffed on a clearing attempt.
The Lightning got within 3-2 with 28 seconds left in the second when Fedotenko scored on a power play. On a rush down the slot, Fedotenko wheeled around defenceman John Erskine and connected on a low shot.
Lecavalier’s short-handed goal tied it with 7:16 left in regulation. St. Louis took a turnover by Brian Pothier deep into the right corner before dishing a centring pass to Lecavalier, who netted his 42nd on a wrister between the circles.
Notes: After going 43 games without a goal, Morrisonn has two in five games. … Two trading deadline acquisitions made their Lightning debuts: RW Jason Ward and LW Karl Stewart. … Tampa Bay has a power-play goal in nine of 10 games. …. Washington went to overtime for the seventh time in 10 games. … After going five games without a goal, Ovechkin has four in three games.