After falling to the Panthers 4-1 on Thursday the Caps continued their Florida road trip in Tampa Bay on Saturday night. The Capitals rebounded with a 2-1 win as Beagle and Kuzy provided the scoring.
The Capitals got off to a quick start in the game. At 2:09 they went up 1-0 on a goal by Jay Beagle. Stansav Galiev put the shot on net and after it went off the goalie, Beagle spun and put the puck in.
For Beagle, it was his fourth goal of the season and it was assisted by Galiev, his second. The Capitals and Lightning both had two penalties each. The most notable was when Tom Wilson got in a fight with Mike Blundin at 10:05 and both got sent to the box.
The Lightning got the man-advantage 4:47 in the second when Matt Niskanen got called for tripping but couldn’t get anything past goaltender Braden Holtby. The Caps would extend their lead to 2-0 11:16 into the second period. Evgeny Kuznetsov rebounded a John Carlson shot, then took the puck down to the right side of the net, used some sleight-of-hand with the stick and the puck and put it past Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop. It was Kuzy’s ninth of the season and Carlson got the assist, his 17th of the season.
Late in the period there was another fight, this time with Nate Schmidt and J.T. Brown dropping the gloves.
In the third, Niskanen got his second penalty of the night, this time for tripping. With the Lightning on their second power play of the period, Nikita Kucherov’s slapshot goal made it a 2-1 game.
Kucherov’s 11th goal was assisted by Anton Stralman and Steven Stamkos. That was as close as the Bolts would get as the Caps got a big 2-1 win.
The Capitals were outshot 36-20 but Holtby played phenomenal as he finished with 35 saves and a .972 save percentage. The Caps are the first team in the Eastern Conference to get to 20 wins. Washington improved their record to 20-6-2, good for 40 points and remain a three points ahead of the Rangers for first place in the Metropolitan Division. The Caps will conclude their three game road trip on Monday night in Pittsburgh against Sydney Crosby and the Penguins.
By Michael Marzzacco