Kucherov, Lightning beat Capitals in East round-robin play

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TORONTO Nikita Kucherov scored the shootout winner to give the Tampa Bay Lightning a 3-2 victory against the Washington Capitals on Monday in Eastern Conference round-robin play.

The teams played 5 minutes of 3-on-3 overtime before going to a shootout because the games for seeding are following regular-season rules. Tampa Bay’s win puts it in a tie with Philadelphia at two points apiece in the Eastern Conference race, while Washington is third with one and Boston fourth with zero.

Tampa Bay goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped two of the three Capitals players he faced in the shootout after making 31 saves in regulation and overtime.

Before OT, Capitals winger Tom Wilson and Lightning center Anthony Cirelli exchanged some words and shoves at the third-period buzzer. These teams can’t meet again until at least the second round, if not the East final.

Kucherov also scored in regulation, opening the scoring 12:53 into the first period when he took advantage of off-balance Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny and wired a shot top corner past Braden Holtby. Mitchell Stephens made it 2-0 Lightning 7:48 into the second when he forced Jonas Siegenthaler to turn it over and out-positioned him in front of the net.

That lead didn’t last the rest of the period.

Richard Panik, who had six points in his last five games before the NHL season was halted in March, found the puck loose in the crease and poked it in at the 17:24 mark of the second. Washington’s leading scorer during its 2018 Stanley Cup run, Evgeny Kuznetsov, scored with 27.1 seconds left before intermission to tie it.

NOTES: Lightning captain Steven Stamkos missed the game as expected while recovering from a setback from core muscle surgery. Coach Jon Cooper said Stamkos playing in the first round-robin game was never the plan. … The Capitals held out Norris Trophy finalist defenseman John Carlson as a precaution after he got tangled up with an opponent and went down awkwardly during their exhibition game last week.


Lightning: Face the Presidents’ Trophy winning Boston Bruins on Wednesday.

Capitals: Face the Flyers, who beat the Bruins in the round-robin opener, on Thursday.


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