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Oshie’s Hat Trick Propels Capitals over Lightning.

Following Andrei Vasilevskiy’s first loss as the Tampa Bay Lightning’s number one goalie, The Bolts welcomed in the Washington Capitals. The Lightning (34-27-9) faced off against the Capitals (45-17-8) who are currently tied for first in the Metropolitan Division and the Eastern Conference with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Following the Toronto Maple Leafs game on Thursday, the Bolts look to rebound following a 5-0 loss.

Tonight’s game wouldn’t have a very good start for the Lightning. Luke Witkowski would serve an early too many men on the ice penalty, and TJ Oshie and the Capitals would take advantage. Tampa Bay would get some good time in the Capitals zone, but during the first period they were never able to establish a lengthy run in the offensive zone. Later in the opening period Oshie would notch another goal to give Washington a 2-0 lead. Around the five-minute mark, TJ Oshie would head off for high sticking, and the Bolts would capitalize with the man advantage. With the Lightning swarming in the offensive zone, a rolling puck would find its way to Nikita Kucherov’s stick. Tampa’s leading scorer would wrist the puck behind Braden Holtby to cut Washington’s lead 2-1. That goal was Kucherov’s 100th career goal. Barely 16 seconds later with both teams at even strength the Lightning would keep the puck in the zone and Alex Killorn would tie the game up 2-2 as he fell to the ice. Tampa would lead in shots on goal 10-8 as the first period came to an end.

Tampa continued their offensive zone pressure in the second period, with extended periods of time in the Washington defensive zone. The Lightning did a really good job early in the period of not allowing the Capitals to truly set up in their zone. Vasilevskiy continued to show why the Lightning front office had so much faith in him by making numerous key saves when the Capitals had offensive zone time. At one point Vasilevskiy even stopped a shot that appeared to pop between his mask and jersey.

Early in the period The Lightning would go on the penalty kill following an interference call on Jonathan Drouin. Tampa would kill off the penalty, but moments later Matt Niskanen would rip a shot from the blue line and give the Capitals back a lead 3-2 in the game. A few minutes later John Carlson would get a bouncing puck right in front of Vasilevskiy, that the Lightning goalie couldn’t stop. Washington would take a 4-2 lead near the mid-way point of the third. The tenacity the Lightning showed in the first and second periods just seemed to dissipate in the third. The hustle that got them two quick goals in the first became just trying to maintain the tie, while taking the opportunity if it presented itself. With Vasilevskiy on the bench and with six skaters Nikita Kucherov rifled a shot past Hotlby that if you blinked you missed it, unfortunately shortly there after TJ Oshie completed the hat trick with a backhanded empty netter to seal the game 5-3.

Three Stars of the Game

1st Star – TJ Oshie: The Capitals forward notched two early goals for Washington to give them a early lead. He finished the game with a Hat Trick including a empty netter

2nd Star – Nicklas Backstom: Four Assists on the night.

3rd Star – Nikita Kucherov – Career Goals 100 and 101 not enough to help Lightning Win.

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