Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year, Same Results for Tampa Bay, Caps Win 7-4

By JC De La Torre

It wasn't exactly how the Tampa Bay Lightning wanted to ring in 2009. Washington Capitals Superstar Alex Ovechkin scored a goal and assisted on two others to lead the Caps past the Tampa Bay Lightning 7-4 in a night that Bolts goalie Mike Smith would soon like to forget.

Smith was shelled for all seven goals, the most given up by a Lightning goalie this season. Tampa Bay perhaps partied a little too much in the Nation's capital, as Washington jumped on the Bolts 3-0 in the first with goals from Sean Collins, Dave Steckel, and Mike Green and were outshot 15-8.

As typical for the Lightning, they rallied in the second, getting two goals in the 1st 2:37 of the period from Vincent Lecavalier and Ryan Malone to pull within 3-2. Eleven seconds after Malone pulled Tampa Bay within one, Matt Bradley reestablished the two goal cushion on a poor clearing attempt by Mike Smith. Vincent Lecavalier would again show some late period heroics, as he scored with 0:16 second left in the 2nd period to make it 4-3 going into intermission.

At the 8:07 mark of the third, Boyd Gordon would victimize a lazy clearing attempt by Smith again, putting the Caps back up by 2 goals. Mark Recchi pulled the Lightning close at the 12:22 mark of the third with his ninth of the season, but twenty-five seconds later, Chris Clark would get his first goal of the season, giving the Caps a 6-4 advantage. Ovechkin would score late to give Washington their final margin of victory and Tampa Bay their second straight defeat.

There was a very scary moment in the hockey game in the third period, when Lightning defenseman Jamie Heward was checked hard into the board by Ovechkin. Heward's head appeared to hit the class and he crumpled to the ice, lying still for several minutes. A stretcher was brought on to the ice and he was rushed to Sibley Memorial Hospital. Heward had a concussion but movement in all of his extremities and is being held at the hospital for evaluation.

"It was an accident and I'm very sorry," Ovechkin said to the AP following the game, "I never want to hurt somebody, especially my old teammate. It's hard and I'm very sorry, but it's a game and it's a moment. He turns and I have speed. ... I hope he is OK."

The hit by Ovechkin was a clean one and Heward's injury was just a tragic reminder of the physicality of NHL Hockey.

We at the TBSB wish Jamie a speedy recovery.

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