Saturday, May 26, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning up next: Panthers fall to Capitals

WASHINGTON — Once the Capitals cracked Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo, they cruised to their fifth consecutive victory.

T.J. Oshie, Alex Ovechkin and Lars Eller scored on five shots in less than five minutes as the Capitals beat the Panthers 4-2 Saturday night to keep their winning streak going. Oshie had two goals in the game and wasn't worried about the veteran team getting frustrated by Luongo's heroics.

"Sometimes you've got to find different ways to score," said Oshie, who has six goals this season. "We got a pretty positive bench. We got guys that say the right things on the team. You saw there it took a tip-in goal to kind of open the floodgates a little bit."

Luongo was arguably the best player on the ice, making 32 saves on 36 shots, and he was on the wrong end of some mistakes by an injury-riddled Panthers lineup, which faces the Lightning on Monday in Sunrise. There wasn't much he could do on Oshie's first goal that came on a 2-on-1, or on Ovechkin's, when the superstar made a textbook deflection of Brooks Orpik's shot.

Luongo stopped just about everything he could see. He robbed Ovechkin from his spot on the power play, got his right pad on Marcus Johansson's effort from the edge of the crease and made such an impressive glove save on a rebound attempt by Nicklas Backstrom that he held the puck in the air like an outfielder showing he snared a line drive.

The 37-year-old earned plenty of kudos from Capitals players, and his coach didn't blame him at all when Florida's 2-1 lead became a 4-2 deficit in a 4:45 stretch.

"Second period he probably made five unbelievable saves to keep it close," Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said. "We made some dumb mistakes. We opened up the ice for them. They're a team that's going to capitalize on your mistakes."

Jared McCann scored his first goal with Florida after an offseason trade from Vancouver, and Reilly Smith had a power-play goal as the Panthers led early in the third period. But without ageless right wing Jaromir Jagr, who left with a groin injury, and many other key players, they couldn't handle the Capitals' onslaught.

"Things were looking good for our hockey team, and then we fell apart again," said Gallant, whose team has lost seven of 10. "It was a matter of time before they're coming back the way we were playing."

Gallant said Jagr felt a cramp in his groin during the first period and was too sore to return. He said the injury didn't seem too serious and called the 44-year-old day-to-day.

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