User ID
Password
  Forgot User ID
or Register Today!
VegasInsider.com
VI Mobile Scores and Betting OddsVI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds Be Social
Home
NFL
NBA
NHL
MLB
NCAA FB
NCAA BK
Golf
Auto
Horses
Soccer
Boxing/MMA
More
Betting Tools

 
Caps double up visiting Lightning, 4-2

WASHINGTON (AP) - Just like the old days. The Washington Capitals are in first place, and Alex Ovechkin is tied for the NHL's goal-scoring lead.

Advertisement
Nicklas Backstrom poured cold water on that kind of thinking in a hurry.

``It doesn't matter if it feels that way, because it depends how it is in the playoffs,'' the Capitals center said. ``And we weren't that successful in the playoffs.''

True, the Capitals teams from those ``old days'' - which, in this case, is just a few years ago - always collapsed in the postseason, but this year's team was in serious danger of not making the playoffs at all. They have now rallied to put themselves in the driver's seat, moving two points clear in first place in the Southeast Division with Sunday's 4-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

``Now we're back on track,'' Ovechkin said. ``And it's good.''

Harking back to his MVP days, Ovechkin scored his 24th and 25th goals to tie the Lightning's Steven Stamkos for the top spot in the league. Ovechkin has 16 goals in 14 games, including a total of five in back-to-back games over the weekend.

John Carlson and Joel Ward also scored for the Capitals, who have won four straight and eight of 10. Washington is two points ahead of the Winnipeg Jets in the Southeast race with a game in hand. Michal Neuvirth, making his first start since March 16, had 28 saves, including a pair of point-blank one-on-one stops against Vincent Lecavalier.

Lecavalier and Alex Killorn scored for the Lightning, whose playoff hopes are bleak following back-to-back weekend losses. Tampa Bay has been playing better since Jon Cooper replaced Guy Boucher as coach last month, but the team trails Washington by eight points with three weeks remaining in the regular season.

``We're getting better as a team, there's so many things that are getting better,'' Cooper said. ``The problem is we're just running out of time.''

Ovechkin's production had been declining sharply since his MVP seasons of 2007-08 and 2008-09, and he spent the first part of this lockout-truncated season adjusting to a different position and playing style under new coach Adam Oates.

But Ovechkin has regained his stride in recent weeks, leading the Capitals back into playoff position while producing a pair of hat tricks, including his trio of goals in Saturday's win over the Florida Panthers.

There wasn't anything flashy about his goals on Sunday. The first one was a redirect, and the second was an empty-netter with 4.4 seconds to play.

Lecavalier scored on the Lightning's first shot, redirecting the puck from Martin St. Louis past Neuvirth on a power play less than 2 minutes into the game. Lecavalier could have reasonably had a hat trick in the first period, with two later chances to close in solo on Neuvirth, but the goalie stopped him both times.

The Capitals answered with three goals in the second period. Ovechkin redirected Jack Hillen's shot to tie the game, Carlson beat Ben Bishop (34 saves) high to the glove side with a slap shot, and Ward kept the puck on a 3-on-2 break and put it past Bishop on the stick side.

Between the goals by Ovechkin and Carlson, Killorn put the Lightning back in front temporarily by taking the puck at the blue line, maneuvering around Hillen and beating Neuvirth one-on-one.

Notes: Ward limped off after blocking a shot in the third period and didn't return, but Oates said the forward was OK and would make the trip to play the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday. ... Washington F Brooks Laich, hurt again after missing the first 28 games of the season with a groin injury, will see a specialist on Tuesday. ``They can't quite get a handle on what it is,'' Oates said. ``He just doesn't feel good. It's a little sore everywhere, but not necessarily where he was in the groin, and that's why he's seeing the specialist.'' ... Washington F Martin Erat, acquired from the Nashville Predators at the trade deadline, sat out with a lower body injury after taking a nasty hit from Erik Gudbranson on Saturday. Oates said he doesn't think ``it's going to be too long'' before Erat returns. ... The Capitals are 12-3 against Southeast opponents. ... Backstrom earned his 300th career assist. ... The Capitals are 13-1-1 in their past 15 home games against the Lightning.

---

Follow Joseph White on Twitter: http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written
consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

  
HEADLINES
Williams: In the Crease - Week 15
News: Grand Salami - January
Ducks edge Lightning in OT, 2-1
Flames cool off Panthers, 5-2
Blackhawks rally past Avs, 6-4
Devils shock Wild as heavy 'dogs
Senators knock off Blues on road
Leafs top Sabres, 'over' cashes
Stars hold off Rangers, 7-6
MORE HEADLINES
 
Why Buy Picks From VegasInsider.com
NHL Pro Hockey Handicapper Sports Picks Records
NHL Hot Streaks
5-0 +610 Last 3 Days, +2,066 TY
9-1 +910 L10, 23-8 +1,793 Run
11-5 L16 Totals, +1,959 TY
5 Wins in a Row, 14-3 Streak
8-3, +517 L11 Guaranteed Plays
9-4 +761 L13 Picks, 4-0 Totals
5-1, +399 L6 NHL Selections
NHL Pro Hockey Expert Sports Picks - Arizona Coyotes at Winnipeg Jets
2016 NHL SEASON PICK RECORDS
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
Bruce Marshall + 2066
Stephen Nover + 1959
Bill Marzano + 1147
Underdog Leaders
Handicapper Money
Stephen Nover + 1381
Joe Williams + 541
Gary Bart + 541
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
Bruce Marshall + 987
Stephen Nover + 332
ASA + 274
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
Bruce Marshall + 1571
Scott Rickenbach + 1249
Stephen Nover + 1240
Favorite Leaders
Handicapper Money
Kevin Rogers + 906
Stephen Nover + 246
Don Anthony + 150
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
Bruce Marshall + 953
Gary Bart + 810
Stephen Nover + 90
MORE PICK RECORDS
  
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 10% off a Live Odds subscription, SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, and receive access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!
VI Gold Membership