LANDOVER -- When the Washington Capitals rally from two goals down and score five times, they have every right to expect a victory.
And yesterday, against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Capitals needed a victory. But, evidently still in the holiday spirit, they settled for a 5-5 tie.
"We'll take the point," said Capitals coach Terry Murray. "But we're not satisfied. It was clearly a game we dominated from the second period on. We had quality chances, at least 10 in the third period. The right people had the chances and we were still not able to get the goal we needed.
"There is no satisfaction in that."
It was a difficult game for the 14,914 to watch, and even harder for the Capitals to play.
After 10 goals were scored in the first two periods, there were no more to be had through the third period and the five-minute overtime, as Tampa Bay's Pat Jablonski turned away 14 shots in the last period and the Lightning defense prevented the Caps from getting even one shot in overtime.
Although the Capitals came away from this four-game homestand with a 2-0-2 record, they head into Boston this afternoon in a fourth-place tie in the Atlantic Division with the Florida Panthers, who beat the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, 4-2, yesterday.
Washington also goes in without defenseman Al Iafrate, who returned to the lineup yesterday for the first time since spraining his knee Dec. 21.
Iafrate had little impact, and after the game admitted his knee bothered him.
"The doctor told me not to go [to Boston]," Iafrate said. "He said it's still too early. I played a lot, but didn't do the things I normally do. It was frustrating. I felt like I was backing in, staying back all the time, because I realized it was difficult to turn. When you can't function the way you're used to, it's no good."
L The game started faster than the Capitals were prepared for.
Even though Mike Ridley gave them a 1-0 lead on a short-handed goal 1:22 into the game, the Lightning was in charge early on.
"The momentum swung back to them very quickly," said Ridley, referring to Petr Klima's power-play goal 35 seconds after his short-handed score. "It wasn't until late in the second period that we jumped on the puck more. That was the biggest difference.
"We came back with a lot of shots. I guarantee you, if we had better ice, we'd score more goals. It's like passing a tennis ball out there. Trying to set up in front of the net, everything goes in slow motion because the ice is so slow. But I've been here eight years and the ice hasn't changed. Only the frustration changes. It's building."
Peter Bondra is no doubt learning about frustration. He gave the Capitals a 2-1 lead at 5:26 of the first, but he had seven more shots, a number of them on breakaways in the third period, that resulted in nothing.
"I hope he's thinking about that," said Murray. "He puts himself in the perfect positions -- the exact places you want him to be. But he has to finish."
Dimitri Khristich, Washington's leading goal scorer with 19, had six shots in the third period and was visibly tired after this game.
Murray said the Boston game will be more difficult because of yesterday's game. After falling behind by two goals, he primarily went with three lines yesterday, choosing to keep the fourth line of Craig Berube, Alan May and Kevin Kaminski on the bench. "I've got to make sure to get all four lines going in Boston," Murray said.
Tampa Bay's Brian Bradley scored on a power play to tie the game at 11:33 of the first period and at 11:51 Mikael Andersson gave the Lightning a 3-2 lead.
At 14:02, Roman Hamrlik made it 4-2, and Murray admitted that at that point he seriously considered pulling goalie Rick Tabaracci.
It was only Thursday that Tabaracci, who turns 25 today, recorded the Caps' first shutout of the season.
Washington's Kelly Miller brought the Caps within 4-3, with 3:06 left in the opening period.
But Tampa again extended its lead to two goals, at 7:07 of the second, when Klima scored for the second time.
After that, it was all Washington.
Dale Hunter scored his first goal of the season on a power play and Ridley tied the game at 16:01.
The Caps outshot the Lightning, which had set back-to-back records for allowing fewest shots in a game before arriving here, 29-11 over the last two periods of regulation.
"What can you do?" said Jablonski. "Sure it was great to score those four goals in the first period, but we gave up three. It's not our style. We're not going to win that way."
& Yesterday, nobody won.
Tampa Bay .4 1 0 0 -- 5
Washington 3 2 0 0 -- 5