WASHINGTON — Five lousy minutes.
Five lousy minutes when the Lightning took three minor penalties and the Capitals scored two power-play goals were the difference in Tampa Bay's 4-3 loss Friday night at the Verizon Center.
But the way the Lightning looked at it, it was referees Mike Hasenfratz and Francois St. Laurent who were lousy and bore some responsibility for Tampa Bay falling behind 2-0 in the game's first 5:45.
An argument could be made goaltender Dwayne Roloson should have stopped the tallies by Alex Ovechkin and Troy Brouwer, but …
"Two penalties for absolutely nothing," Boucher said. "We get two penalties for absolutely nothing; calls that are never called the entire year, so right away they give (the Capitals) a break, and they capitalize right away, and we're behind the eight ball the rest of the way."
"They scored two power-play goals," center Steven Stamkos said, "and in the end, those are the goals that won them the game."
It was the sixth straight loss for Tampa Bay (17-22-4), and it might have been the most frustrating in the streak because except for those five minutes, the Lightning had the better of play, evinced by a 31-20 shot advantage that helped the team overcome a 3-0 second-period deficit.
Tom Pyatt's second-period goal started the rally. Stamkos' power-play goal, his league-best 30th goal of the season, made it 3-2 with 3:24 left in the third, and after Brouwer's empty-net goal, Vinny Lecavalier made it 4-3 with 11 seconds left.
For good measure, Stamkos got his licks in on Brouwer, who had a hat trick but with 6:11 left in the third hit Marty St. Louis from behind into the boards.
"Our players played hard," Boucher said. "We can't ask for more with our players."
They just couldn't do enough to overcome those five lousy minutes.
They began with defenseman Pavel Kubina's high-sticking penalty on Marcus Johansson 48 seconds in. The play was over, Boucher said, and any contact with Johansson was inadvertent because Kubina, though his stick was in the air, had no intention of hitting the Capitals player.
Tampa Bay killed that power play but wasn't as lucky on St. Louis' interference call or Eric Brewer's delay of game, both of which produced goals through Roloson's legs. There was no arguing Brewer's penalty, but St. Louis said he simply skated in front of Washington's Joel Ward.
"It's a play that happens all the time," he said. "I don't know."
What Tampa Bay knows is it answered well after Thursday's 5-2 loss to the Hurricanes but still fell 10 points behind the Capitals for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
"We played well enough to win," Boucher said. "What's tough is we're not getting the breaks."
Especially in those five lousy minutes.
First Period—1, Washington, Ovechkin 18 (Johansson, Wideman), 3:52 (pp). 2, Washington, Brouwer 12 (Semin, Wideman), 5:45 (pp). Penalties—Kubina, TB (high-sticking), :48; St. Louis, TB (interference), 3:01; Brewer, TB (delay of game), 5:07; Washington bench, served by Beagle (too many men), 11:04; Hamrlik, Was (hooking), 18:01.
Second Period—3, Washington, Brouwer 13 (Laich, Knuble), 5:25. 4, Tampa Bay, Pyatt 4 (St. Louis), 17:06. Penalties—Carlson, Was (tripping), 10:16; Downie, TB, major (fighting), 12:42; Alzner, Was, major (fighting), 12:42.
Third Period—5, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 30 (Malone, Lecavalier), 16:36 (pp). 6, Washington, Brouwer 14 (Laich, Halpern), 19:00 (en). 7, Tampa Bay, Lecavalier 17 (St. Louis, Purcell), 19:49. Penalties—Clark, TB (holding), 10:09; Stamkos, TB (roughing), 13:49; Brouwer, Was (boarding, roughing), 13:49; Hamrlik, Was (delay of game), 16:00. Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 8-8-15—31. Washington 8-5-7—20. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 1 of 5; Washington 2 of 4. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Roloson 6-10-2 (19 shots-16 saves). Washington, Vokoun 18-10-0 (31-28). A—18,506 (18,398). T—2:39. Referees—Mike Hasenfratz, Francois St. Laurent. Linesmen—Jay Sharrers, Brian Murphy.