Ovie'd: Caps catch Lightning late, win in OT 3-2
With just under 4 minutes left in the third period the Washington Capitals found themselves amid a three-game losing streak, down 2-1 and staring another crucial loss in the face.
Then a persistent forecheck paid off tenfold.
A great shift by the Caps in the offensive zone resulted in a chance for Marcus Johansson on the doorstep, with the game on his stick.
Head up all the way, Johansson calmly slipped a wrist shot through the five-hole of Lightning rookie goalie Dustin Tokarski to even the score at 2-2.
Then in overtime it was the captain's turn. Alex Ovechkin took a pass from Dmitry Orlov and found the back of the net at the 4:09 mark of the extra frame to give the Caps their first win in four games.
Orlov ended up with the puck in the high slot straight away from Tokarski, faked a shot and slid the puck to the tape of Ovechkin, who didn't miss a wide-open net for his 12th career OT game-winner.
A twist of fate that turned another disappointing home loss into a thrilling overtime victory and a huge momentum swing for the team.
And boy was it a needed momentum swing.
Before the Johansson tally, the Caps were on their way to their 12th loss in their last 17 games at home. A far cry from the blazing-hot start to begin the year at Verizon Center. But Johansson had a strong game across the board, even coming within inches of a goal in the second period that miraculously stayed behind the rookie Tampa Bay netminder without crossing the goal line.
Tomas Vokoun was solid in his first start in his first start since Feb. 22 when he was pulled after allowing four goals on 11 shots in Florida. He stopped 24 of 26 shots to get the win. Among those 24 saves were some key stops down the stretch in the third period after the Caps tied the game.
Keith Aucoin started the scoring with his 10th career goal in the first period to give the Caps a 1-0 before back-to-back powerplay goals in the second by Ryan Malone and Teddy Purcell gave the visiting Lightning a 2-1 lead heading to the third.
Tokarski, a 22-year-old rookie, made 29 saves on 32 shots in his first NHL start for the Lightning. He had no chance on the Caps' first goal and made several big saves early, showing great poise.
The win gives the Caps 72 points and a tie with Winnipeg for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. The Caps earn the spot by virtue of a tiebreaker over the Jets. Washington and Winnipeg have both played 67 games, Buffalo trails the final spot by just two points and Tampa Bay lurks three points behind in the standings.
Washington travels to Boston to face the slumping Bruins on Saturday before hosting the free-falling Maple Leafs on Sunday at Verizon Center. A four-point weekend would do wonders for the Capitals playoff hopes.