- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Washington Capitals have had success this season in large measure by producing positive results in relatively short periods of time. Last night they went a whole period without doing anything right and paid the price.

Tampa Bay scored three times in the second period while Washington players spent a good part of that time in the penalty box. The Lightning breezed to a 6-4 victory before about 10,000 at Verizon Center.

“We didn’t have a very good second period and we’ve got to find a way to rectify that,” said defenseman Jamie Heward, the only Caps player still in the dressing room minutes after the game ended. “We gave up some bad goals in the second period. Too many penalties again and not a good enough period against a team that’s got some good skill. It gives them momentum when we take penalties like that, it makes our guys tired. We just didn’t play a good second period.”

Washington lost its season opener in regulation but had taken points in each of the next five games before being beaten last night by a team that didn’t even have enough forwards available to dress four complete lines. Tampa Bay’s leading scorer, center Ryan Craig (five goals), was out with a sprained knee.

“We asked ourselves before the game, ‘What team is going to show up tonight?’” said Lightning coach John Tortorella, whose club has been struggling trying to score goals all season. “We won a big road game tonight against a much improved, hard-working team that is very hard to play against.”

Alexander Semin continued his hot hand for Washington with a goal (his eighth) and an assist for 11 points just seven games into the season. His first-period goal, originally credited to Alex Ovechkin, makes him the fastest player to score eight goals to open a season in club history. Like Semin, Mike Gartner and Dennis Maruk each had seven goals after six games, but neither of the others scored in their seventh.

Semin now has at least a point in all of Washington’s games this season. The seven-game streak is the longest of his career. His eight goals are two short of the total he had in 52 games when he was with the Caps three seasons ago.

Also scoring for the Caps were Mike Green, Brian Sutherby and Ovechkin, the latter getting his fourth of the season.

The night clearly was headed in the wrong direction when Vincent Lecavalier scored shorthanded less than six minutes after the start. Washington took the lead by the end of the first, but the team was in the process of taking seven straight penalties, enough to knock its attack completely off balance. By the time the second period ended, it was 4-2 Tampa Bay and it went downhill from there.

Notes — Left wing Matt Pettinger (bruised shoulder) was the only medical scratch for the Caps last night. Defenseman Bryan Muir and center Boyd Gordon were the coaching scratches. …

Right wing Chris Clark’s six-game points streak, longest of his career, came to an end. …

On Wednesday the Caps open a four-game western swing that is the team’s only venture west of the Mississippi this season. The team plays Wednesday in Colorado, Friday in Vancouver, Saturday in Edmonton and Monday in Calgary. After that, the Caps play no game farther west than Pittsburgh.

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