T.J. Oshie had a hat trick and the Washington Capitals clinched a playoff berth with a 5-3 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena last night.
Nikita Kucherov netted his team leading 32nd and 33rd goals and Alex Killorn scored a highlight reel goal, his first in 16 games. Tampa Bay lost consecutive games for the first time since February 2 when they fell to last in the Eastern Conference. The Lightning trails the Toronto Maple Leafs by two points for the second wild card entry into the playoffs.
Washington scored first on the power play (Too many men on the ice) as Ondrej Palat turned the puck over in his own zone and T.J. Oshie scored his 27th goal of the year from Marcus Johansson (24) and Nicklas Backstrom (51) at 3:44.
Just 15 seconds later, Alex Killorn scored his 17th, from Jonathan Drouin (27). It was Killorn’s first goal since February 4th. Killorn skated around Matt Niskanen, who had gone to the ice to block the shot, and beat Braden Holtby as he was falling down to tie the game at two.
Shots for the period were 10-10.
The scoreless second period featured superb goaltending by Andrei Vasilevskiy as Washington fired 13 shots at him. Washington was up 23-18 in shots after 40 minutes.
Washington took a 3-2 lead as Justin Williams scored on a redirect of a Matt Niskanen shot from long distance just after a power play expired. Williams’ 20th was assisted by Niskanen (32) and Andre Burakovsky (18) at 3:14 of the third period.
The Capitals took a two goal lead on a delayed penalty call on Alex Killorn when John Carlson batted one in past Vasilevskiy from the slot. Backstrom and Oshie got the assists on Carlsson’s 8th of the year at 5:30.
T.J. Oshie scored an empty netter with 43 seconds remaining to complete the hat trick and make the final 5-3.
The Maple Leafs lost in OT, so they are two points ahead of Tampa Bay with a game in hand. There is one remaining head to head contest on April 6.
Eleven games remaining.
“We’ve just got to be better.” – Alex Killorn
“I thought we battled hard in the second period, but just couldn’t get it together in the third.” – Braydon Coburn
“Credit to all the guys coming into the lineup. They’re earning their keep out there.” – Braydon Coburn
“This is not the time we can give away games. We can’t let this break us… We have to refocus and get back at it.” – Victor Hedman
“You go through slumps and you get frustrated… To score a goal like that just shows you you have to keep shooting.” – Alex Killorn on his first goal since February
“Our backs are against the wall. We have to get points out of our next opponent.” – Coach Jon Cooper
“We need more than Point, Kuch and Palat. Our backs are against the wall.” – Coach Jon Cooper
“You can’t give up five, you can’t give up four. It’s too tough in this league.” – Coach Jon Cooper
Tampa Bay will host the Coyotes Tuesday at 7:30 PM.