TAMPA — Steve Yzerman was remarkably calm for someone who believed a game had been stolen from his team.
So certain was he after the Lightning's 2-1 shootout loss to the Capitals on Monday night at the St. Pete Times Forum, the general manager spent about five minutes with NHL officiating supervisor Don Koharksi.
"The referee has to make an instantaneous decision," Yzerman said. "Unfortunately, he got it wrong."
Referee Tom Kowal's call of goaltender interference wiped out Vinny Lecavalier's tally that would have given Tampa Bay a 2-0 lead 3:35 into the third period.
"And that's probably the game," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said.
Instead, Washington's Alexander Semin tied the score with 5:32 left, and Alex Ovechkin scored the only shootout goal to send the Lightning (37-21-8) to its fourth straight loss and drop it two points behind the Capitals in the Southeast Division.
Yzerman said replays showed Tampa Bay's Marty St. Louis did not touch Washington goaltender Braden Holtby after he was tripped by Brooks Laich. And it was Laich's stick that pushed Holtby's left leg into the net.
"If he touched him, it had no bearing on the play," Yzerman said of St. Louis. "Brooks Laich hits his own goalie and pushes him into the net. It happened in the blink of an eye, but we got the short end of the stick on that call."
"If it's not a goal, then it has to be a penalty," Boucher said. "It was major tripping."
Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said St. Louis should have been penalized.
"It was interference," he said. "It should have been a penalty because he touched him."
Either way, "It was an important thing," Boudreau said. "Obviously, 2-0 to 1-0 is a big difference against that team."
A team that took a 1-0 lead on Sean Bergenheim's first-period, power-play goal, and then rode goalie Dwayne Roloson's 29 saves, including 10 in overtime and the last nine of the extra period.
It needed him. Tampa Bay has just five goals during its losing streak, its first of four games this season.
Steven Stamkos, with one goal in 12 games, hit a post. Simon Gagne twice was robbed by Holtby, as was Eric Brewer in front of the net in overtime.
Still, it all came back to the disallowed goal.
"I got tripped," St. Louis said. "I didn't feel like I was going at the goalie. I just got tripped and ended up in the crease. … (Laich) put me in that situation."
"It can have an impact on the season," Boucher said. "The guys worked really hard, and we did get that goal. It was an honest goal. The guy is tripped. It's a wrong call, period."
|Capitals win shootout 1-0|
First Period—1, Tampa Bay, Bergenheim 13 (St. Louis, Stamkos), 12:30 (pp). Penalties—Carlson, Was (holding), 6:56; Hendricks, Was (slashing), 12:26; Ohlund, TB (hooking), 18:21; Ovechkin, Was (delay of game), 19:55.
Second—None. Penalties—Washington bench, served by Ovechkin (too many men), 2:37; Hedman, TB (elbowing), 10:31.
Third—2, Washington, Semin 24 (Wideman, Ovechkin), 14:28. Penalties—Hannan, Was (high-sticking), 16:39; Lecavalier, TB (interference), 16:39.
Overtime—None. Penalties—Kubina, TB (hooking), 3:44.
Shootout—Wash. 1 (Ovechkin G, Semin NG), Tampa Bay 0 (Moore NG, Hall NG, Lecavalier NG). Shots on Goal—Wash. 7-10-3-10—30. Tampa Bay 7-14-4-3—28. Power-play opportunities—Wash. 0 of 3; Tampa Bay 1 of 4. Goalies—Wash., Neuvirth (7 shots-6 saves), Holtby 5-2-2 (0:00 second, 21-21). Tampa Bay, Roloson 18-21-3 (30-29). A—16,835. T—2:47.