- The Washington Times - Friday, March 2, 2007

Changing the starting lineup didn’t help, and having the shootout extend longer than any other this season didn’t either.

The Washington Capitals’ one-on-one woes continued last night when Tampa Bay forward Nick Tarnasky beat Brent Johnson in the 10th round to give the Lightning a 5-4 victory at Verizon Center. Nineteen shooters failed before Tarnasky, who has just three goals and five points in 61 games, snapped a wrist shot past the Caps’ goalie.

Washington lost for the 10th time in 11 shootouts this season while Tampa Bay won for the 10th time in 11 tries. The Caps have now lost five times via shootout since Feb. 6, a span of 11 games.

“We’re contemplating pulling the goalie on four-on-four [in overtime],” Caps coach Glen Hanlon said. “We said it as a joke at first, but now we are getting serious about it.”

Hanlon shook up the team’s lineup, using Brooks Laich and Tomas Fleischmann for the first time this season before Alexander Semin went third.

Alex Ovechkin had not missed a shootout this season, but was 1-for-10 before last night. Because it was 0-0 after three shooters, Ovechkin got his chance anyway and was unsuccessful again.

“I’ve tried to use the three guys [Ovechkin, Semin and Matt Pettinger] and rotate them around, so tonight I just tried something different,” Hanlon said. “It is not an excuse but when you’ve got two 35-goal scorers and you’re next goal scorer has seven [Pettinger has 15 but left the game with an undisclosed injury and was not available] … we just felt [we wanted] to give Ovie a little bit of a break and take some pressure off of him.”

Lightning goaltender Johan Holmqvist improved his record to 6-0 in shootouts this year. Holmqvist, who was drafted by the Rangers in 1997 and spent the past two seasons in the Swedish Elite League, has now turned aside 26 of 27 attempts this season.

“The confidence is there. I don’t really have an answer for it,” Holmqvist said. “Just try to find good timing on the players. If you have confidence in the shootouts, you have a good chance to stop it.”

The Caps lead 3-2 in the third period and had limited the Tampa Bay star trio of Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis and Brad Richards to just a pair of assists.

Lecavalier tallied his league-leading 42nd of the season — a shorthanded goal with 7:16 left in regulation — to tie the score at three. A little less than four minutes later, St. Louis scored his 39th on a nifty give-and-go with Lecavalier to push the Lightning ahead.

But Cory Sarich and Eric Perrin took penalties late in the third and the Caps had a two-man advantage with 63 seconds left in the contest. After Johnson went to the bench, they had a 6-on-3 advantage and Semin notched his 33rd goal of the season with 10.9 seconds left to send it to overtime. He was surveying the ice from along the goal line to the left of the net when he snapped it toward the cage and the puck glanced off Lightning defender Nolan Pratt and in.

New addition Jiri Novotny spent most of his night skating with fellow Czech Republic native Fleischmann and Laich, but he earned his first point in a Caps uniform during an uneven line change. Novotny settled the puck on his stick in the right corner and fed Ovechkin, who rifled a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle over Holmqvist’s left shoulder to give Washington a 2-1 lead midway through the second period. It was Ovechkin’s 38th of the year and fourth in three games.

“I heard the guys joking before the game to be ready for shootout,” Novotny said. “Again we go into shootout and we lost. Sometimes you need a little bit of luck.”

Notes — Defenseman Bryan Muir was the team’s lone healthy scratch. Ovechkin wore an “A” as an alternate captain. The team had three (Ovechkin, Brian Sutherby and Brashear) with the captain Clark missing because of a strained shoulder.

Pettinger and center Boyd Gordon both left the game early with undisclosed injuries. Right wing Eric Fehr was assigned to Hershey, but will remain in Washington for treatment while he recovers from a back injury.

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