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Capitals snap Lightning streak

It's official _ the Lightning has spoiled its fans.

Not a bad thing, necessarily. Last season's playoff experience and this season's eight-game unbeaten streak out of the box produced sky-high expectations.

But defenseman Dan Boyle thought some fans a bit unreasonable Tuesday night when they booed during a 5-1 loss to the Capitals at the St. Pete Times Forum.

"That's tough to hear," he said. "You're going to have those games, and it wasn't even one of those games where we stunk. We played hard and had a lot of chances. We just made a couple of mistakes a few of us would like to have back."

Yes, there were unpleasant aesthetics about the loss.

The Capitals entered the game, statistically, anyway, the NHL's worst team. They were 1-8-1 in their past 10 games, had lost six in a row on the road and had not scored more than two goals in nine consecutive games.

And it would have been nice to put another exclamation point on Tampa Bay's victory over the Capitals in last season's East quarterfinals.

But Washington scored twice in the first period and three times in the second to take a 5-0 lead. It scored two power play goals, one shorthanded, and went 6-for-6 on the penalty kill.

Still, it was the Lightning's first loss after going 7-0-1 to tie the 1981-82 Flyers for the league's seventh-longest unbeaten start. And had it not been for Capitals goalie Olaf Kolzig, things could have been different.

Kolzig made 41 saves as Tampa Bay produced a season-high 42 shots to Washington's 23. He made 18 saves in the first period, when the Lightning outshot the Capitals 18-7 but fell behind 2-0 on goals by Dainius Zubrus and Robert Lang.

"They got a lot of confidence out of that period," Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk said. "Their goaltender made some great saves to keep them in the game."

"They came at us," Kolzig said. "It wasn't like we dominated the game. We were opportunistic. The scoring chances we got tonight we buried and that was the difference."

Lang had a goal and two assists to give him 401 career points. Zubrus had two goals. Sergei Gonchar had three assists, and Jaromir Jagr had a goal and an assist after getting one goal and zero assists in his past nine games.

The Lightning had trouble containing Washington's rushes. The defense looked shaky on at least two goals with Boyle and Brad Lukowich getting burned one on one.

And goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, named the league's defensive player of the month for October, was pulled for John Grahame with 11:04 remaining in the second period after allowing four goals on 11 shots.

Coach John Tortorella said it wasn't that Khabibulin played that badly, though he should have been sharper on Zubrus' shorthanded goal that gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead after the right wing went around Lukowich.

It was more preventative.

"Nik has played so very well for us, I didn't want him to get scarred," Tortorella said. "You could see it was going to be one of those games. I should have taken him out after the third (goal)."

The fourth came 8:56 into the period on a wrist shot from Jeff Halpern, who got past Boyle. That was 2:04 after Jagr's power-play goal.

Kolzig, 18-6-0 against the Lightning, made 15 saves in the third period as Tampa Bay outshot Washington 16-8.

Martin St. Louis got his fourth goal with 8:08 remaining. But Kolzig made a wonderful glove save on Boyle and stoned Dmitry Afanasenkov, who had six shots in the game. Vinny Lecavalier had seven, three in the third period.

"We didn't get the results tonight," Tortorella said. "But we played better than some of the games we got better results. That's how this game works."

Boyle's point exactly.

"I'm definitely not happy about the crowd booing," he said. "They can boo if we don't work hard. That's no problem. But we definitely were working."

Just not winning.