Wed, Apr 04, 2012 - Page 19 News List

NHL: Lightning wreak havoc on Capitals’ playoff hopes

AP and Reuters, TAMPA, FLORIDA

Two goals by scoring machine Steven Stamkos in the final minute gave the Tampa Bay Lightning a 4-2 win over Washington on Monday, leaving the Capitals under pressure in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Sitting in the eighth and final post-season spot, the Capitals (40-32-8) had a chance to gain some breathing room, but the loss left them in a vulnerable position — just two points in front of ninth-placed Buffalo with two games remaining.

Washington were on the verge of at least earning a point, tied 2-2 late in the third, but Stamkos buried the game-winner right in front of the goal with 1 minute, 3 seconds left and added an empty-net score in the last seconds to run his NHL-leading goal total to 58 for the season.

It was a brutal loss for the Capitals, who also could have moved within a point of Southeast Division-leader Florida and are now in danger of missing the playoffs altogether.

Alexander Semin put visiting Washington ahead 1-0 in the second period, but Teddy Purcell and Victor Hedman responded five minutes later to put the Lightning (37-35-7) in control.

Jason Chimera came up with the game-tying score at 16:43 in the third, but it was quickly erased as Stamkos seized the spotlight and sent the Capitals home sulking.


In Los Angeles, the hosts edged closer to only their second division title in franchise history by beating Edmonton.

Jonathan Quick made 19 saves in his NHL-leading 10th shutout, while Slava Voynov and Dwight King scored in the third period for the Kings, who began a frantic final week in the Pacific Division by opening a two-point lead over Phoenix.

San Jose and Dallas also are in the tight race for the division crown and three Western Conference playoff spots.

Los Angeles could clinch their first division title in 21 years with two regulation wins over San Jose in a home-and-home series starting on Thursday — or the Kings could yet miss the playoffs.

The Oilers will miss the post-season for the sixth straight year.

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