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Tampa Bay Lightning loses to Washington Capitals 5-3

WASHINGTON — Mike Mc- Kenna said he does not believe the Capitals players celebrating a goal in his crease Friday did it on purpose. But it did not matter.

McKenna waded into the pack and pushed back.

"I'm emotional when I play," McKenna said. "I don't think they did it intentionally, but I don't think any goaltender appreciates celebrating in their crease."

It was the only moment in Tampa Bay's hard-fought 5-3 loss at the Verizon Center that reminded of the circumstances surrounding the game: the first meeting since Capitals star Alex Ovechkin's perceived excessive 50th-goal celebration last week at the St. Pete Times Forum near the Lightning crease.

That story line was a dud. Ovechkin and Tampa Bay generally co-existed, Ovechkin's two goals notwithstanding, one into an empty net that gave him a league-high 53 and his four points that gave him 100.

So, it fell to McKenna, who made 34 saves, to personify Tampa Bay's resilience against an opponent that owns the Lightning. Tampa Bay (24-34-17) lost its 10th straight to Washington and fifth this season. Brian Pothier's goal 4:30 into the third period that deflected off Vinny Prospal broke a 3-3 tie.

Give Tampa Bay credit, though. Its 36 shots equaled its previous two games combined. Goals by Steven Stamkos, his 19th in the second, and Prospal, his 19th in the third, erased a 3-1 first-period deficit. Marty St. Louis had three points, including a first-period goal, his 29th, that tied Vinny Lecavalier for the team lead.

But Tampa Bay was its own worst enemy; it gave Washington nine power plays, of which three were converted. Including Thursday's game with the Canadiens, the Lightning faced 17 power plays while getting five. "Any time you're killing nine penalties, it's like you're killing one-third of a game. That's a hard way to play," coach Rick Tocchet said.

Why the disparity? Part of it is slow starts. Tampa Bay took five penalties in a first period in which Washington held a 16-9 shot advantage.

"We have to get in their zone and push their defense and get them to take some penalties," defenseman Richard Petiot said.

But Tocchet said it is inattention to detail; four of the Lightning's 10 penalties were stick fouls. He said he had no problem with any of the calls except when defensemen Matt Smaby and Josef Melichar were whistled for tripping and slashing, respectively, 5:22 into the game. "The five-on-three, I'm still trying to understand that one," he said.

Ovechkin converted with a big slap shot from the slot to make it 1-0. Nicklas Backstrom's two power-play goals made the score 3-1. His second, in which he smacked in a rebound from in front of the net, prompted the scrum with McKenna.

Backstrom confirmed it was unintentional. Even so, Mc- Kenna said. "I just wanted to let them know that's not going to happen."

"They scored and celebrated, no big deal," Tocchet said. "But I'm glad Mike did that."

Capitals 3 0 2 5
Lightning 1 1 1 3
Capitals 3 0 2 5
Lightning 1 1 1 3

First Period1, Washington, Ovechkin 52 (Backstrom, Laich), 6:49 (pp). 2, Washington, Backstrom 20 (Ovechkin, Green), 11:17 (pp). 3, Tampa Bay, St. Louis 29 (Pettinger, Lashoff), 15:48. 4, Washington, Backstrom 21 (Green, Ovechkin), 19:38 (pp). PenaltiesMorrisonn, Was (tripping), 2:58; Melichar, TB (slashing), 5:22; Smaby, TB (tripping), 5:22; Koci, TB (roughing), 10:31; Jurcina, Was (holding), 12:42; Lashoff, TB (holding), 13:29; Lashoff, TB (holding), 17:58.

Second Period5, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 19 (Malone, St. Louis), 19:06. PenaltiesArtyukhin, TB (interference), 3:27; Lecavalier, TB (holding), 12:19; Kozlov, Was (tripping), 13:54.

Third Period6, Tampa Bay, Prospal 19 (St. Louis), 2:59. 7, Washington, Pothier 1 (Laich, Aucoin), 4:30. 8, Washington, Ovechkin 53 (Laich), 19:53 (en). PenaltiesKozlov, Was (hooking), :36; Artyukhin, TB (cross-checking), 2:30; Erskine, Was (cross-checking), 2:30; St. Louis, TB (interference), 8:17; Prospal, TB (high-sticking), 13:44. Shots on GoalTampa Bay 9-12-15—36. Washington 16-13-10—39. Power-play opportunitiesTampa Bay 0 of 4; Washington 3 of 9. GoaliesTampa Bay, McKenna 4-5-1 (38 shots-34 saves). Washington, Theodore 29-16-5 (36-33). A18,277 (18,277).

Tampa Bay Lightning loses to Washington Capitals 5-3 03/27/09 [Last modified: Friday, March 27, 2009 11:30pm]

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