TAMPA — Lightning coach Rick Tocchet did not talk to reporters after Monday night's 3-0 loss to the Capitals at the St. Pete Times Forum. It was said he was in meetings.
But there was no missing his displeasure, especially in the third period when he benched his top two lines.
For the last seven minutes or so, Vinny Lecavalier, Marty St. Louis, Ryan Malone, Jeff Halpern, Steven Stamkos and Alex Tanguay sat.
Associate coach Rick Wilson, who handles the defense, said he could not comment on Tocchet's thinking. But he did offer this when asked if the team got enough from its top players:
"Reflecting, you'd probably say no. We could use a little more. When you play a top team, you have to bring your A game. All the individuals have to bring their A game, and we probably had a few who were a little bit short. You need everybody on board. You can't have any weak links."
The Capitals, the league's top team, didn't have any as they scored three times in the second period and beat Tampa Bay (11-10-8) for the 12th straight game.
Alex Ovechkin, back after a two-game suspension, scored twice to reach 20, and Semyon Varlamov made 26 saves.
Tampa Bay helped with turnovers by Stephane Veilleux, Tanguay and Halpern leading to goals. Defenseman Lukas Krajicek failed to box out on Eric Fehr's goal.
"They put the light on with every opportunity," Veilleux said. "Maybe a few bad decisions here and there, but when these guys are on the ice, you need to realize who they are."
And that is what was so disappointing for Tampa Bay. In a game against a division rival that has kicked its behind the past two seasons, its best players did not show up.
Stamkos, who leads with 17 goals, failed to get a shot for the first time this season. Tanguay also went without a shot. St. Louis let the puck roll off his stick on a breakaway. Lecavalier, who especially early was engaged and hungry to score, ended up missing more shots (four) than he got on net (three).
"You know you'd like to say, 'Let's put our best foot forward,' everybody and collectively and see where we stand," Wilson said. "Some of the guys maybe weren't quite up to their A game, and it's very difficult to win big games without them. They're the impact players."
"Very disappointing," St. Louis said.
Tanguay agreed: "I got four goals … but I have to find a way to find more, the same with Marty, the same with Vinny, the same with everybody. We have to find a little more, bring our A game. We're too good to have these kinds of efforts and errors that are costing us games."
And playing time.
First Period—None. Penalties—Malone, TB (goaltender interference), 1:40; Downie, TB (slashing), 4:29; Downie, TB (cross-checking), 13:10.
Second Period—1, Washington, Ovechkin 19 (Semin), 7:39. 2, Washington, Fehr 8 (Fleischmann), 12:32. 3, Washington, Ovechkin 20 (Fleischmann, Semin), 19:35 (pp). Penalties—Green, Was (slashing), 5:12; Semin, Was (slashing), 8:02; Schultz, Was (tripping), 9:55; Downie, TB (high-sticking), 9:55; Lecavalier, TB (tripping), 17:37.
Third Period—None. Penalties—Fehr, Was (hooking), 2:16; Lecavalier, TB (tripping), 9:58; Erskine, Was (roughing), 18:23; Fehr, Was (roughing), 18:23; Walker, TB (roughing), 18:23; Downie, TB (roughing), 18:23. Shots on Goal—Washington 7-16-11—34. Tampa Bay 7-14-5—26. Power-play opportunities—Washington 1 of 5; Tampa Bay 0 of 3. Goalies—Washington, Varlamov 12-1-2 (26 shots-26 saves). Tampa Bay, Smith 5-6-5 (34-31). A—12,400 (19,758). T—2:25.