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Ovechkin then had an excellent chance to up the Capitals lead just two minutes later, but the puck skipped over his stick while he attempted a backhand on a breakaway and it bounced out of harm’s way.

Knuble added his second goal of the night with 8:21 gone in the frame, as he turned on a partially blocked Nicklas Backstrom shot and redirected it past Smith for a 3-1 edge and his 25th of the campaign.

However, Tampa Bay answered quickly, cutting the lead back to one as Vinny Lecavalier took a Martin St. Louis feed and fired it past Varlamov just :42 after Knuble’s second tally.

Smith got a bit of help from his lumber with seven minutes to play, as despite losing his goal stick in the crease, it made a save on a shot that eluded Smith while laying across the goal mouth.

The Caps then got themselves in some penalty trouble, taking two straight minors, but thanks to a nice couple of blocks from Backstrom — who despite breaking his stick — stopped three consecutive Tampa Bay shots while the Caps were on a 4-on-3 disadvantage.

““I don’t know how many other superstars in the league would be doing that on a [4-on-3].” Caps coach Bruce Boudreau remarked afterwards. “That’s what makes him special. It was definitely a turning point [in the game].”

The third period was delayed briefly thanks to an issue with the building’s lighting, as the Verizon Center remained dimly lit even after the teams returned to the ice. The two teams took a while to warm up as well, with Tampa Bay getting some good chances to even the score but Varlamov held the fort despite some close calls.

However, the two teams then traded goals just after the halfway mark of the period with the team’s newest grinder scoring a pair of tallies.

Walker then scored his first goal as a Cap with 9:49 to play, collecting a pass from and beating Smith through the five-hole to restore Washington’s two-goal lead — although just briefly.

Just :24 after Walker’s tally, Lecavailer broke in alone down the wing, faked a shot and beat Varlamov to cut the lead back down to one.

Steve Stamkos then tied the game with 7:32 left to play, notching his 38th goal of the season by converting Mattias Ohlund pass from behind the net anad beating Varlamov.

Despite blowing a two-goal lead, Washington broke back on top for good just :41 later, thanks to Walker, who collected a Green feed and beat Smith with a shot the goaltender just got a piece of, but not enough as it rolled in the cage to give the Caps a 5-4 lead.

“Most of you know my stats [just 3 goals coming into tonight’s game] and they’re not a huge part of my game, but you like to chip in where you can,” Walker said. “Definitely makes you feel good … It’s nice to chip in and help out, but like I said, the two points are what I’m looking for every night.”

“We stuck right with the best team in the league for however many minutes before we tied it up,” Stamkos said afterwards. “And then the next shift they get one. That’s a killer.”

The Caps did hold on for the win, moving to 24-3-3 at home, the fewest regulation losses in the league this season.

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