WASHINGTON – After the Washington Capitals were eliminated in four games by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round of last season’s playoffs, the Capitals made several important changes. One of them was adding goaltender Tomas Vokoun.
In his first game with Washington, Vokoun had a rocky start—allowing five goals to the Lightning. He recovered in overtime and in a shootout as the Capitals scored a rugged 6-5 win.
Matt Hendricks and Alexander Semin scored goals in the shootout as Vokoun stopped shots by Nate Thompson and Dominic Moore, who had both beaten him earlier.
Three shots into his Washington career, Vokoun, who expected to start in Saturday night’s opener but didn’t, had allowed two goals—including a fluky one off defenceman Mike Green’s skate.
The rest of regulation time wasn’t much better.
“It’s been a long, long time since I feel as bad as I feel today,” Vokoun said. “I should have lost—hands down—99 out of 100 games—and I won it.”
Jason Chimera added two goals to give him three in the first two games.
It was the teams’ first meeting since the last spring’s shocking Lightning sweep.
Coach Bruce Boudreau was relieved the Capitals pulled out the win—despite Vokoun’s shaky performance.
“It ends up as a positive thing—even if he didn’t have a positive game,” Boudreau said.
The Capitals have won their first two games—one in overtime and the second in a shootout.
Tampa Bay, which is playing its first five games on the road, has lost two of three.
Hendricks was the first shooter in the shootout and he beat Dwayne Roloson, and after Thompson and Moore failed to cover for the Lightning, Semin’s shot secured the win.
In the five-minute overtime there were three penalties—two on Washington. Vokoun stopped all five Tampa Bay shots.
“Takes a guy with a lot of mental toughness to play like that,” Boudreau said. “I got to believe if it was me I would have been so mentally out of it.”
Roloson, last season’s playoff hero and two days shy of his 42nd birthday, was far less effective this time. After holding the Capitals to 10 goals in four games last spring, Roloson allowed five goals and stopped 38 shots.
“The craziest in all my years of playing,” Roloson said.
Due to an arena renovation, the Lightning are starting the season with their longest road trip, and they’re a little rusty.
“We worked hard—we just didn’t work smart,” Thompson said.
The first period was a surprisingly offensive one. Tampa Bay’s Teddy Purcell was given credit for the first goal when a shot deflected off Green’s skate. After Marcus Johansson poked a shot out of Roloson’s glove behind the net, he wrapped it around the goal to tie the score. Bruno Gervais’ first goal in 57 games—since March 25, 2010—gave Tampa Bay a 2-1 lead 8:35 into the game. The Lightning were held to just one shot in the remaining 11:25 of the period.
Dennis Wideman’s shot past a screened Roloson with 3:20 to play in the first period tied the score at 2-2.
While the first period was frenetic, the second was more defensive.
Moore gave Tampa Bay a 3-2 lead 56 seconds into the period on a slap shot past Voukon. Troy Brouwer scored his first goal for Washington at 3:42 into the second to tie it 3-3.
Chimera scored his second goal in two games when he rebounded a shot from Brooks Laich past a sprawling Roloson for the 4-3 lead. At 7:42 of the third, Thompson scored for the Lightning to tie it 4-4.
Brett Clark scored at 13:56 of the third period for a 5-4 Tampa Bay lead.
Chimera tied it on an unassisted goal at 17:16.
Notes: Tampa Bay D Mattias Ohlund, who has yet to play this season, will be gone for at least a month with a right knee injury. … Gervais played his first game for Tampa Bay. C Blair Jones, C Tom Pyatt and D Matt Gilroy were healthy scratches for the Lightning. … Chimera’s first goal was the 100th of his career. … The Capitals play their first road game on Thursday, at Pittsburgh. The Lightning will next play Thursday at the New York Islanders. … Tampa Bay signed LW Ondrej Palat to a three-year, entry-level contract. … Washington had a two-man advantage for 1:14 in the second period, but couldn’t score. Twelve seconds after the first penalty expired, C Nicklas Backstrom was called for slashing.