WASHINGTON — Throughout the Lightning's strong start this season, its power play has played a big role.
The unit entered Friday's game against the Capitals ranked fifth in the league (28 percent), scoring three goals in Wednesday's win over the Rangers alone.
But in a 6-0 loss to the Capitals, the Lightning's power play fizzled, going 0-for-5.
"Our power play was god-awful," coach Guy Boucher said.
The Lightning had two power-play opportunities to open the second period, when it trailed by one goal. But it couldn't capitalize, and soon after, the Capitals' John Erskine scored to give Washington a two-goal advantage. With five minutes left in the period, the Lightning had a five-on-three power play but couldn't cash in.
"We had an opportunity right off the bat in the first five minutes in the second and didn't get any shots off, were fumbling pucks everywhere," Boucher said.
Said Capitals D John Carlson: "Our No. 1 thing on the board was to win the special-teams battle, and I thought we did that to a 'T'. That wins games, and it certainly helped us tonight."
HAVING A BALL: C Dominic Moore has played a ton of ball hockey in his life but never anything like he did Friday.
The Lightning occasionally does off-ice "activation" exercises to get the blood flowing on game days. It has tried Ultimate Frisbee, football and soccer, to name a few. Friday morning, though, players played street hockey with tennis balls in a special setting: the street between Lafayette Park and the White House.
"I think the security guys weren't expecting that this morning, but they enjoyed watching it, too," Moore said. He smiled and joked, "I'm sure there was a little buzz on the headsets when we were showing up, 'There's guys with weapons.' "
ON HOLD: The anticipated return of LW Simon Gagne (neck strain) won't come for at least a few more days. Gagne didn't make the trip to Washington and is doubtful for tonight's game against the Panthers.
Boucher said Gagne, who has missed 17 games, hasn't had enough practice time. The Lightning was scheduled for a morning skate today.
"To be honest with you, I don't want to focus on him at all," Boucher said. "We've got the guys that are here.
"The other day, he was close (to returning). But not close enough. There's not enough team practices for him to feel comfortable right now … unless he wakes up (today) and decides he doesn't need any team practices, but I highly doubt it."
MISCELLANY: C Nate Thompson had precautionary X-rays after Friday night's game after getting hit hard into the boards in the third period. He was expected to play tonight. … D Mathieu Roy was a healthy scratch. … Boucher spent his first Thanksgiving in the Tampa Bay area by taking his family to the beach at Siesta Key. "My wife didn't have to do any turkey, so she was happy," Boucher quipped.
Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected].com.