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Washington Capitals beat Tampa Bay Lightning 5-1 as Mike Green sets scoring record for defensemen

TAMPA — Coach Rick Tocchet, so impressed with Mike Green's offensive ability, said the Capitals' fourth-year player reminds him a little of Paul Coffey, one of the top-scoring defensemen in NHL history.

Saturday night, Green made history of his own, doing something not even Coffey could complete during his Hall of Fame career.

Green became the first defenseman to score in eight consecutive games, his power-play goal highlighting the Capitals' 5-1 win over the Lightning in front of 17,249 at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Green, 23, completed the feat in the second period, taking a loose puck between the circles and slapping it through goalie Karri Ramo, who had replaced Mike McKenna in the second period with Tampa Bay already down 3-0.

Green, a Calgary native whose father was in the stands, was soon mobbed on the ice by his teammates, who emptied the bench to congratulate their star.

"I wasn't really expecting that," Green, the team's first-round pick in 2004, said of the celebration. "I was excited. It almost brought a tear to my eye. I was pretty jacked up."

Said Tocchet: "That's a hell of a feat for him. Got to tip your hat to a kid like that."

The Lightning also showed praise for Capitals goalie Michal Neuvirth, who made 31 saves to pick up a win in his first NHL start.

"I still can't believe that," Neuvirth, 20, said. "That was my best feeling ever."

His most impressive stop was a glove save on a Vinny Lecavalier breakaway in the first period, when the Lightning was shut out on 14 shots.

Defenseman Steve Eminger said the Lightning (19-26-11) left some chances out there by making "cute passes" instead of looking to score.

"I felt a couple times we had pucks in the slot and we were passing it. And that's the one thing that kind of upsets me," Tocchet said. "Shoot the puck. Get to the net. You stress in practice: don't be fancy, shoot the puck, no cross-ice passes, short shifts. You stress all that stuff, and it seems like when it's 3-0, sometimes you get away from that. People start going on their own program a little bit."

The Lightning coach said a big no-no against the Capitals is cross-ice passes. And Alex Ovechkin showed why in the first period, when a Tampa Bay turnover in its offensive zone led to Ovechkin scoring off of a two-on-one.

But Tocchet pointed out when players make mistakes, he would like to see other guys "bail them out," and McKenna shouldered a little bit of the blame. He said he read Ovechkin's wrist shot wrong off his stick and had a hard time seeing Shaone Morrisonn's shot from the point for the third goal.

"We lost the game 5-1," said McKenna, who allowed the first three goals on 12 shots. "That's a pretty good inclination of how poor it was all around. I wish I would have been a lot better in the first so we would have given us a chance to come out of there even; could have used a big save or two early on there."

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith @sptimes.com.

Capitals 3 1 1 5
Lightning 0 1 0 1

First Period1, Washington, Semin 21 (Backstrom), 5:02. 2, Washington, Ovechkin 38 (Semin, Backstrom), 13:21. 3, Washington, Morrisonn 2 (Steckel, B.Gordon), 19:20. PenaltiesSemin, Was (hooking), 10:15; Ovechkin, Was (interference), 19:29.

Second Period4, Washington, Green 22 (Semin), 5:33 (pp). 5, Tampa Bay, Malone 19 (Lecavalier), 9:30. PenaltiesHalpern, TB (hooking), 4:45; Green, Was (hooking), 14:08; Tampa Bay bench, served by Artyukhin (too many men), 16:34; Melichar, TB (hooking), 18:19.

Third Period6, Washington, Fehr 8 (Fleischmann), 13:31. PenaltiesSmaby, TB (roughing), 9:42. Shots on GoalWashington 12-12-8—32. Tampa Bay 14-14-4—32. Power-play opportunitiesWashington 1 of 4; Tampa Bay 0 of 3. GoaliesWashington, Neuvirth 1-0-0 (32 shots-31 saves). Tampa Bay, McKenna 2-2-1 (12-9), Ramo (0:00 second, 20-18). A17,249 (19,758).

Capitals 5

Lightning 1

Washington Capitals beat Tampa Bay Lightning 5-1 as Mike Green sets scoring record for defensemen 02/14/09 [Last modified: Sunday, February 15, 2009 7:43am]
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