Caps 3, Lightning 0
After a sluggish first period, Alex Ovechkin and the Caps found their legs and put away the Lightning with a businesslike, 3-0 victory that vaulted them into first place in the NHL standings.
Check out my game story here, then come on back for a few notes that didn't make the early edition:
*With their sixth straight win, the NHL-leading Capitals are now 19-5-6, their best 30 game start in franchise history. It's a pretty significant accomplishment, but captain Chris Clark said there's still room for improvement.
"We're heading in the right direction," Clark said. "We're nowhere near where we should be, peaking wise. We want to do that in March and April heading into the playoffs. I think we have a little ways to go to be a little better and more consistent."
The Caps are also 7-0-0 in a Southeast Division race that's not going to be much of a race of they keep this up.
*When Semyon Varlamov brings his A-game like he did tonight, he's pretty spectacular. My personal favorite save of the night came early in the first period when Martin St. Louis rang a shot off Varlamov's mask. While that might have distracted other goalies, the rookie kicked out his pad to stop Steven Stamkos on the rebound. Impressive.
*Speaking of St. Louis and Stamkos (and Vincent Lecavalier, for that matter), they all seemed to spend a lot of time on the bench late in the third period of the Lightning's fifth loss in six games.
*Mike Green was sporting a cut under his left eye after taking a shoulder to the face from David Hale in the third period. Green went down hard but stayed in the game. The defenseman told me afterward that he thinks he's going to be fine.
*John Erskine got the hard hat for sticking up for Brian Pothier in the final moments of the game after Steve Downie leveled Pothier from behind.
*Eric Fehr on his five-goals-in-six-games streak: "I still feel like there's more to give. It's a good start. I'm getting a lot of opportunities."
*Ovechkin's 19th and 20th goals pulled him even with Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby for second place and within a goal of New York's Marian Gaborik for league lead in goals.
*Former Caps goalie Olie Kolzig was in the visiting dressing room tonight catching up with his old friends. Kolzig still maintains a home here in Tampa.
That's it from me tonight. I'll check in tomorrow from St. Pete Times Forum, where the Caps are practicing early before flying to Buffalo.
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