WASHINGTON — When you think about it, the Lightning doesn't have much to play for at this point. The playoffs are a dead issue, and there are only seven games left in this lockout-shortened season.
That is why Saturday night's 6-5 overtime loss to the Capitals is so notable.
Down 5-1 5:26 into the second, Tampa Bay scored four straight goals and tied the score with 2:35 left in the third to gain a point for the regulation tie.
"We could have packed it in," right wing Teddy Purcell said. "It just goes to show we have a lot of character and fight in here. We're trying to build and get better for next year."
Mike Green's four-on-three goal 2:39 into extra time ended the drama at the Verizon Center that included a scary moment when a first-period Green slap shot shattered the visor of Lightning center Nate Thompson, who needed eight stitches to close a cut over his right eye.
Beyond that, Tampa Bay (17-21-3) should bottle the second and third periods, when it outshot Washington 32-14 with a season-best 21 in the second.
Richard Panik and Marty St. Louis scored twice, and Purcell's backhand from the slot tied it.
"They have every reason to throw in the towel," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "Instead, we have a discussion of what's going to work and what doesn't, and they went out and executed to a tee our game plan."
That was not the case in the first period as Tampa Bay gave Washington four power plays.
Washington scored only once, but St. Louis said the momentum was tough to overcome. And in a span of 11:41 — from 6:15 left in the first to 5:26 into the second — Washington scored five times for a 5-1 lead.
"It's not just them scoring goals. It's them feeling good about themselves," St. Louis said. "Their good players are getting a lot of ice time, a lot of touches, and that carries over. They become tougher to play against and got a little swagger."
Goalie Ben Bishop was pulled for Mathieu Garon after a first period in which he allowed three goals on 20 shots. But if not for him, the 3-0 score would have been worse.
"That was a pull to wave the white flag and say, 'Sorry, kid. If we didn't have you, it probably would have been 7-0.' " Cooper said. "Bish was great, and Matty came in and held the fort."
The Lightning, outshot 20-6 in the first, ended with a 40-38 advantage. Panik also had an assist and was plus-4.
"You take it as a loss, ultimately," Cooper said. "But we scratched and clawed back to get a point."
First Period—1, Washington, Brouwer 16 (Ribeiro, Ovechkin), 13:45 (pp). 2, Washington, Hillen 2 (Beagle, Oleksy), 18:45. 3, Washington, Ovechkin 27 (Backstrom), 19:22. Penalties—Thompson, TB (tripping), 2:40; Pouliot, TB, double minor (high-sticking), 5:54; Tampa Bay bench, served by Purcell (too many men), 12:54; Crombeen, TB, misconduct, 20:00.
Second Period—4, Washington, Chimera 2 (Perreault, Oleksy), 2:41. 5, Tampa Bay, Panik 3 (Pyatt, Purcell), 3:55. 6, Washington, Fehr 8 (Perreault), 5:26. 7, Tampa Bay, St. Louis 10 (Stamkos, Pouliot), 18:47. Penalties—Beagle, Was (tripping), 7:07; Backstrom, Was (slashing), 9:46.
Third Period—8, Tampa Bay, Panik 4 (Gudas, Aulie), 4:23. 9, Tampa Bay, St. Louis 11 (Hedman, Pyatt), 8:17. 10, Tampa Bay, Purcell 11 (Pyatt, Panik), 17:25. Penalties—None.
Overtime—11, Washington, Green 10 (Ribeiro, Fehr), 2:59 (pp). Penalties—Lecavalier, TB (slashing), 1:53. Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 6-21-11-2—40. Washington 20-10-4-4—38. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 0 of 2; Washington 2 of 5. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Bishop (20 shots-17 saves), Garon 5-8-2 (0:00 second, 18-15). Washington, Holtby 19-11-1 (40-35).