TAMPA — Let's get this out of the way:
On the winning goal in the Capitals' 4-3 victory over the Lightning — scored by Eric Fehr with 51.5 seconds remaining in the third period Thursday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum — both Alex Ovechkin and Mikhail Grabovski were a foot offside.
That said, it was the way Tampa Bay managed the puck in the final minute that really irked coach Jon Cooper.
"We just broke down at the end," Cooper said. "You can't turn over pucks like that."
Captain Marty St. Louis had turnovers in the offensive and defensive zones on the same sequence before Fehr's goal and threw his head back in anguish when Fehr scored.
It was the third straight home loss for the Lightning (26-14-4), which fought back from a 3-1 first-period deficit, tying the score on Ondrej Palat's deflection with 5:30 left in the third period.
Tyler Johnson and B.J. Crombeen also had goals sandwiched around Washington's three.
But St. Louis' miscues were the story, especially coming in an emotional week in which he was left off Canada's Olympic team.
"He's been a phenomenal player for us," Cooper said of St. Louis, who did not talk to reporters.
"I wouldn't hesitate putting Marty back on the ice in those situations. Even though he turned those over, I still didn't think we were in grave danger."
But Johnson couldn't fight off Fehr in front of the net, and goalie Anders Lindback could not handle Fehr's deflection.
"I've got to try to read the play better and get in the way, try to position yourself as well as you can," Lindback said.
Said Cooper: "Ultimately, you've got to block a shot, you've got to front a guy. You've got to do all different things to help prevent those things from happening."
Capitals goalie Philipp Grubauer made 33 saves as the Lightning had a 36-20 shot advantage and held Washington to 11 shots after the first period.
An arm save three minutes into the third period on Palat's snap shot at the end of a two-on-one with Johnson to preserve a 3-2 lead was key.
"It was a good save," Palat said. "Half the net was open. I just shot on the wrong side of the net."
On this night, St. Louis was on the wrong side of the puck.
Damian Cristodero can be reached at [email protected] View his blog at lightning.tampabay.com. Follow him on Twitter at @LightningTimes.
First Period—1, Tampa Bay, Johnson 12 (Palat), 4:08. 2, Washington, Fehr 7 (Ovechkin, Alzner), 7:04. 3, Washington, Grabovski 12 (Ward, Green), 10:37 (pp). 4, Washington, Johansson 7 (Backstrom, Carlson), 19:48 (pp). Penalties—Thompson, TB (tripping), 8:49; Filppula, TB (hooking), 18:50.
Second Period—5, Tampa Bay, Crombeen 1 (Hedman, Pyatt), 6:45. Penalties—Backstrom, Was (hooking), :36.
Third Period—6, Tampa Bay, Palat 9 (Carle, St. Louis), 14:30. 7, Washington, Fehr 8 (Green, Orlov), 19:08. Penalties—Carle, TB (roughing), 1:39. Shots on Goal—Washington 9-6-5—20. Tampa Bay 12-11-13—36. Power-play opportunities—Washington 2 of 3; Tampa Bay 0 of 1. Goalies—Washington, Grubauer 6-2-3 (36 shots-33 saves). Tampa Bay, Lindback 4-9-1 (20-16). A—19,204 (19,204). T—2:30.