WASHINGTON (AP) — Steven Stamkos scored the overtime winner, Andrei Vasilevskiy made 32 saves and the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning came back to beat the Washington Capitals 2-1 on Saturday night.
It was not the three-goal comeback the Lightning staged to win two nights earlier at Detroit, but it counts as two points just the same. Mikhail Sergachev tied it early in the third period, Vasilevskiy was perfect after allowing the 733rd goal of Alex Ovechkin's career and Stamkos scored with 14.2 seconds left in the 3-on-3 overtime before the game could go to a shootout.
Vasilevskiy, the reigning playoff MVP who's considered the best goaltender in hockey, allowed only Ovechkin's goal late in the second period with his countryman using Norris Trophy finalist Victor Hedman as a screen. Vasilevskiy stopped Ovechkin several times in the third, including one save with the thinnest part of his stick.
Tampa Bay's victory came at the cost of two more injuries. Top winger Nikita Kucherov left midway through the third period, which the Lightning played with five defensemen after Jan Rutta departed in the second.
Ovechkin came an inch or less away from a second goal of the night and the 734th of his career on the shift after his first, but Vasilevskiy covered the puck before it fully crossed the goal line.
The Russian superstar has three goals in two games since turning 36 and starting a five-year contract to chase Wayne Gretzky’s record of 894. Ovechkin ranks fifth and is now eight back of Brett Hull for fourth.
Capitals goaltender Vitek Vanecek stopped 22 of 24 shots in the OT loss.
The Lightning got a scare in the second period when defenseman Ryan McDonagh took an inadvertent stick to the face from teammate Erik Cernak. McDonagh skated off holding a towel to the left side of his face but returned roughly nine minutes later.
Capitals center Lars Eller skated in his 800th regular-season NHL game, joining Frans Nielsen as the only players from Denmark to reach that mark. He needs 126 more games to pass Nielsen for the most among Danes in league history.
BORIS GOOD ENOUGH
Forward Boris Katchouk became the second Lightning player to make his NHL debut in the first three games of the season, replacing fellow newbie Taylor Raddysh in the lineup. The Waterloo, Ontario, native was a second-round pick in 2016 and spent the past three years in the American Hockey League before finally earning an NHL job in training camp.
“He gets after it, Boris,” coach Jon Cooper said. “When he’s getting himself engaged, he can win puck battles, he’s good around the net. He’s got a little grit to his game, which we like. He’s proved it in the American League. He’s been one of those guys that’s just progressed all the way up, and now it’s his turn to get in.”
Lightning: Return home to face the rival Florida Panthers on Tuesday.
Capitals: Host the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday in what could be Nathan MacKinnon’s season debut.
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Stephen Whyno, The Associated Press