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Kuepmer leads impressive Washington over Tampa Bay

Darcy Kuemper may have changed teams in the offseason, however, the reigning Stanley Cup Champion goalie continued his mastery of the Tampa Bay Lightning Friday night.

Kuemper led a physical Washington Capitals team to a 5-1 victory over the lackluster Bolts at Capital One Arena. Kuemper held the Lightning at bay last year in the Stanley Cup Final and continued tonight.

Sonny Milano had two goals and an assist in a strong performance. Anthony Mantha, Aliaksei Protas, and Conor Sheary each scored once. Washington had struggled to find the net all season. That was not an issue Friday night. As a result, the Capitals saw a total team effort come in the form of tough play and key passing.

Kuemper again shines in goal

Kuemper stopped 28 of 29 shots as he continued to control play in the crease against the Lightning. Moreover, he stymied Steven Stamkos and company all night long. The lone goal scored by Bolts defenseman Nick Perbix came well after the game was in hand.

The Capitals finished their homestand 2-2-0 and are now 7-7-2 overall.

The Lightning Struggles Continue

As the night went on, the Bolts had struggles of their own. The lowlight being failing to capitalize on a key major penalty.

Nicolas Aube-Kubel received a match penalty for his hit to Cal Foote’s head early in the second period.

Again, the Lightning fell short in putting together a consistent power play. Consequentially, they could not capitalize on the five-minute penalty.

Immediately following the penalty, Milano flew out of the box and scored. As a result, the momentum of the game completely changed and the Capitals never looked back.

The Bolts failed to score during the three power plays they had, adding to an inconsistent streak of play.

The Capitals key in on team effort

Traditionally, when Alex Ovechkin has a relatively quiet night, the Capitals seem to struggle. This time, the team picked up their overall pace as they outmuscled the Lightning most of the game.

John Carlson had an assist for his 600th NHL point, becoming the first defenseman in Washington history to reach that milestone.

Milano would add a second goal late in the third period on a nice series of passes dancing around Bolts goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Tempers flare and emotions boil over

During the game there were plenty of scraps as both teams found ways to agitate one another. After the Aube-Kubel hit on Foote, Lightning F Patrick Maroon and Capitals F Garnet Hathaway would end up tussling mid-ice. Foote would not return to the game.

Tempers continued to flare through the waning moments with the game out of hand. Scuffles would lead to several late-game sendoffs to the locker room that had both benches depleted by the final horn.

Three Stars

Darcy Kuemper, Washington. Kuemper stopped 28 of 29 shots, including all nine shots he faced on the penalty kill. He continues to have the Lightning’s number since last year’s Stanley Cup Final.

Sonny Milano, Washington. His three-point performance was the crux behind the tempo of the game and singlehandedly helped Washington pull away from Tampa Bay.

Anthony Mantha, Washington. His goal opened the scoring for Washington and his overall play keyed the Capitals hard attack against Tampa Bay. As a result, the combo of Milano and Mantha gave the Capitals the edge in controlling the majority of the game.

What’s next?

After a disappointing evening, the Lightning come home to Tampa with the Capitals not too far behind. The teams square off at Amalie Arena Sunday night at 7pm.

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