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Washington Capitals Take it on the Chin Against Tampa Bay, 7-4

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 17:  Aaron Voros #34 of the New York Rangers and Matt Bradley #10 of the Washington Capitals fight during first period action at Madison Square Garden on November 17, 2009 in New York, New York.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Dave NicholsSenior Analyst IJanuary 12, 2010
The Washington Capitals had won 12 games in a row against Southeast Division foe Tampa Bay.  But Tuesday night the Caps could not match the Lightning's energy, and that lofty streak, along with a three-game winning streak, fell in a 7-4 loss.
Not only was the game filled with goals, but the third period was filled with heavy checks, fisticuffs, and "The Professor" stepping in for "The Russian Machine" in a fight.
The Caps got down early as they were dominated in the first period by Tampa Bay, and the frame ended with the Caps on the wrong end of a 4-1 count.  Michael Neuvirth surrendered four goals on 15 shots, though he could hardly be fully faulted for the performance.
Two of the goals were power play markers by Steven Stamkos, and the defense was fairly invisible for much of the frame.
Coach Bruce Boudreau mercifully switched goalies at intermission, going to veteran Jose Theodore, and Theo was solid for the most part in the second, giving Washington the opportunity to claw back into the game.
Mike Green scored twice on the power play, and Eric Fehr lit the lamp with a sharp snap shot to draw things even.
But Martin St. Louis answered with less than three minutes remaining in the period to break the tie, in what would be the eventual game-winner.
The third period saw Tampa register two more goals to put things out of reach—then all hell broke loose.
Alex Ovechkin slammed Steve Downie with a clean shoulder, Downie took exception, and the two mixed it up a bit, each receiving two minute roughing penalties.
On their way out of the box, Downie slashed Ovechkin and the two exchanged words, eventually agreeing to dance.  The two discarded their gloves and helmets and brought up their dukes.  But flying across the ice was "The Professor," Matt Bradley.
Bradley swooped in and saved Ovechkin from a fight, and he was hit hard by the officials.  He got an instigator, fighting, misconduct, and leaving the bench.  He can probably also expect a call from discipline executive Collin Campbell in the next day or so.
Two minutes later, David Steckel and Zenon Konopka jawed at each other at the dot awaiting the faceoff.  Once the puck fell, the two went at it.  Steckel got a quick shot in to Konopka's beak, but was quickly overmatched. 
Konopka happens to lead the league in penalty minutes and fighting majors this season, and Steckel had exactly zero fights...until tonight.
But Stecks stood up for his team when they needed him, which turned into the theme of the evening for the Capitals, since the result on the scoreboard went so hard against them.
The Caps have little time to recover from getting bruised and bloodied, however, as they continue their jaunt through the Sunshine State against Florida on Wednesday night.

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