The Washington Times - April 3, 2012, 09:46AM

TAMPA, Fla. | Michal Neuvirth allowed three goals on 26 shots Monday night in the Washington Capitals’ 4-2 loss at the Tampa Bay Lightning, an .885 save percentage that’s below his season average.

But Neuvirth could probably only be blamed for one of the goals against: Teddy Purcell’s power-play goal that went five-hole. He also made a handful of huge saves, including one on Steven Stamkos late in the third.

SEE RELATED:


“We gave them a lot of good looks tonight. They had a lot of good scoring chances from good areas, and Neuvy made some big saves,” right wing Troy Brouwer said. “The ones that he had rebounds for, we’ve got to do a better job of clearing them out. That’s what our D-men are for, and we need our forwards to collapse back and help and make sure that there’s no second and third opportunities, and we gave them too many tonight.”

Neuvirth didn’t draw raves from Dale Hunter, though.

“He was good,” the Caps’ coach said. “It’s one of those things that he made some big saves and bottom line they scored right at the end.”

On the other end, Dwayne Roloson had a handful of sublime stops, including highway robbery of Mike Green with his glove, a save that left the defenseman looking disconsolate afterward. Hunter and others lauded Roloson (31 saves on 33 shots), who played well above his season performance.

Neuvirth did not feel badly about his game, though. The Lightning established plenty of traffic in front, something the Caps couldn’t mirror to distract Roloson. Tampa Bay took advantage of that all night.

“I felt good, actually. I was having a tough time finding the puck,” the 24-year-old goaltender said. “They did outstanding job screening. It wasn’t easy game for me.”

Neuvirth, who was hung out to dry on Stamkos’ game-winner with 1:03 left, took it hard.

“It’s tough loss to swallow,” he said. “The game’s over and now we’ve got to look forward to the next game.”

Now the question is whether Neuvirth will be in net for the next game, Thursday against the Southeast Division-leading Florida Panthers. Braden Holtby is waiting for his next chance. And given Hunter’s track record, it wouldn’t be surprising if he turned to Holtby for yet another crucial game for the Caps.