Vincent Lecavalier scored an overtime winner to seal a 3-2 victory over the top-seeded Washington Capitals on Sunday and put Tampa Bay Lightning up 2-0 in their best-of-seven playoff series.
Earlier in the Western Conference, goaltender Antti Niemi clipped the Detroit Red Wings for a second consecutive game, backstopping the San Jose Sharks to a 2-1 win as they took command of their semi-final.
Alex Ovechkin netted at 18 minutes, 52 seconds in the third period to snatch a regulation win away from the Lightning in Washington, but Lecavalier’s second goal at 6 minutes, 19 seconds in overtime left his team with all the momentum in the Eastern Conference series.
Washington have captured four consecutive Southeast Division titles, but have failed to advance past the second round of the playoffs in that span.
The Lightning have missed the postseason for three straight years, but are making noise, having followed up their series opening 4-2 win over the Capitals on Friday.
Forty-one-year-old goaltender Dwayne Roloson made 35 saves, standing firm as Washington dominated early, outshooting Tampa Bay 27-9 through the first two periods.
Martin St Louis gave the Lightning a 2-1 lead with a goal at 7 minutes, 35 seconds in the third, before Ovechkin skated in front of the net and took a pass for the tying score.
Ovechkin was aggressive and finished with five shots after -recording just two shots and no points in Game 1.
The Capitals will head to Tampa Bay for Game 3 today, looking to reverse their post-season shortcomings of the past few seasons.
After a pair of 2-1 losses in San Jose, the Red Wings head back to Detroit for Games 3 and 4 tomorrow and on Friday, trailing 2-0 in the best-of-seven series.
Niemi, who backstopped the Chicago Blackhawks to a Stanley Cup last year, stopped 34 shots for the Sharks and is once again producing some playoff magic.
Jimmy Howard was also sharp in the Red Wings net and finished with 35 saves.
Ian White scored a power-play goal in the first period, while Niclas Wallin scored early in the third to hand San Jose a 2-0 lead.
Henrik Zetterberg’s power play goal with six minutes to play spoiled Niemi’s shutout bid, but not the party as the Sharks held on for victory.