Matt Hendricks beats up Steve Downie blindfolded. (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)
The Washington Capitals hoped the Winter Classic buzz wouldn’t interfere with their hometown appointment with Southeast rivals, the Tampa Bay Lightning. With both teams sitting atop the division, the stakes were high, even if the game lacked the theatrics of Saturday’s Hustle at Heinz.
Unfortunately, the Caps couldn’t set off any offensive fireworks. After a sleepy first period, the red team started mounting a real effort, but they never beat 41-year-old Dwayne Roloson, just acquired from the Islanders. In overtime, it was another vet, Martin St. Louis, who finally put a puck past Semyon Varlamov, a tasty rebound off Vincent Lacavalier. At least we got one standings point. Bolts beat Caps 1-0 (OT).
The Caps are now second in the division.
With a low-output performance like tonight, the Capitals should be delighted with the single point they took away. The Tampa Bay Lightning are clearly a formidable team and one the Caps will be dueling with until April. And that’s probably a good thing. Pressure from within the division will render impossible the sabotaging insouciance we saw last spring right before the playoffs.
We’ll see Tampa Bay next week. And by then, the Caps will know full well how to win: crash the dern net.
Catch you on Saturday night for a dance with the Panthers.
Additional reporting by Neil Greenberg.
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