WASHINGTON — Lightning C Steven Stamkos dived into the fray with fists flying.
Teammate Marty St. Louis, with 6:11 left in the third period Friday, had just been checked from behind into the side boards by Washington's Troy Brouwer, and Stamkos said he knew he had to respond.
"Stick up for your teammates," he said. "That's the way I was brought up. It's a team mentality. Anyone would do that for Marty as well."
That it was Stamkos, with a league-best 30 goals, who was acting as enforcer made it all the more notable. But not unexpected, St. Louis said.
"He's known for his goal scoring, but 'Stammer' plays physical, and he plays the game," St. Louis said. "He's not just about scoring goals. He has a feel for the game, and when it's time to step up, he's done that in the past. So I don't expect anything less."
St. Louis was turned toward the boards when Brouwer hit him behind the shoulder and sent him sprawling.
"I just went in hard finishing my check like I usually do," Brouwer said. "Marty was there. I don't know how it played out, if he turned, what happened. It's good to see that he's okay, that he's not hurt out of the result."
As for Stamkos, Brouwer said, "He's just sticking up for his teammate, which you've got to commend him for that."
Stamkos received a roughing penalty. Brouwer, who had a game-high seven hits, got roughing and boarding penalties.
"I'm proud of him," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said of Stamkos. "We stick together. It's like marriage. They ask you through thick and thin, the answer is always yes. But when the tough comes, how do you react? We react by sticking together."
QUICK STRIKE: A festering problem for the Lightning is allowing goals almost immediately after it scores. Four times in its past six games, Tampa Bay allowed goals fewer than 35 seconds after it lit the lamp: twice (in 33 and 17 seconds) Jan. 3 against the Maple Leafs; in 30 seconds Tuesday against the Canucks, and in 24 seconds Thursday against the Hurricanes.
The Lightning lost each game.
"Whenever you score a goal and they score one right back, it really takes the wind out of your sails," C Nate Thompson said. "So the shift after is huge."
Carolina scored right after Thompson's breakaway goal cut the Hurricanes' lead to 2-1.
Boucher has said the first duty of the shift after scoring is to protect the puck. He was less forthcoming Friday.
"There are different lines with different people, so the frame of mind is probably where it starts," he said. "I'd have to go blow by blow and see what happened there, but they are all different."
ODDS AND ENDS: Tampa Bay was 1-for-5 on the power play in the 4-3 loss to the Capitals and is on a 2-for-39 streak on the road. … D Eric Brewer had a season-high 28:05 of ice time and five hits. … D Marc-Andre Bergeron was scratched for what the team said was an upper-body injury. He has missed some practices but also struggled against Carolina. … RW J.T. Wyman (pinky) also was scratched. … Capitals LW Alex Ovechkin has points in 33 of 44 career games against the Lightning.