Mike Smith's Return Not Enough for Bolts To Stop Capitals Express

JC De La TorreAnalyst IIIJanuary 31, 2010

The faucet is running cold again for the hot and cold Tampa Bay Lightning, as the Bolts dropped their second straight game. This one was a heartbreaking loss to the Washington Capitals, who won their tenth consecutive game and continued their domination of the Lightning with a 3-2 regulation win.

Tampa Bay fell behind 2-0 on goals from Nicklas Backstrom and Brooks Laich but battled back with goals by Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos to tie the game at two.

Unfortunately, the great eight, Alexander Ovechkin would fire one of his patented laser shots past Tampa Bay goaltender Mike Smith to give the Capitals the deciding advantage.

It was a shaky return for Smith, who made 28 stops but looked uncomfortable on the ice, at one point in the second period completely losing his edge, flopping around and giving up a goal.

The loss dropped the Lightning out of the top eight and leaves them two points out of a playoff spot.

"It's devastating, but we've got to grab some positive out of this third period, some momentum going into the next game," St. Louis said. "I thought we showed a lot of character coming back like that."

Once the game was locked at two, the Lightning had their chances; unfortunately, goaltender Jose Theodore made the stops necessary to keep the Bolts at bay.

The Lightning also pinged four posts during the contest.

Tampa Bay was the last team to defeat the Capitals, pummeling the Caps 7-4 on January 12.

"Every team wants to come in and make a statement and say 'We're the team that knocked these guys off'," Laich said, "so we're getting teams' best efforts every single night. We're in special territory right now, and a chance to make history in our next game, so we've got to be prepared."

“We played well, we had chances, I feel like we limited their chances, but I think all and all we were in this game,” Lightning forward Alex Tanguay said. “We felt like we could win it.”

At this point of the season, almost isn't good enough.

Tampa Bay heads to Atlanta on Tuesday to face the Thrashers in a pivotal "four point" game.