ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Lightning is having trouble striking once in the same place, so red-hot Washington Capitals goalie Jim Carey had little trouble keeping his unbeaten record intact last night at the ThunderDome.
The Capitals didn't do very much either, but Carey -- who was named NHL Player of the Week yesterday -- shut out the Lightning, 3-0, to improve his record to 6-0-1 since moving into the net March 2.
That alone was enough to maintain the momentum that the Caps have gathered during a six-week stretch in which they have the best record in the Eastern Conference (6-1-4), but they kept the last-place Lightning in a game that could have come unraveled long before defenseman Sylvain Cote scored off a two-man advantage with 26 seconds gone in the final period to open up a one-goal game.
"I was really happy to see that second goal," Caps coach Jim Schoenfeld said. "You're only afforded so many chances in the game, so it was nice to see that one go in. We just persisted. It was a good road game for us."
Though a two-goal deficit with an entire period left to play might not be considered an insurmountable lead, the Lightning never created any offensive pressure. Tampa Bay had just eight shots on goal through the first two periods and finished the game at a 32-16 disadvantage.
"The team played great in front of me," Carey said. "I don't think I had to stop a rebound all night. Once we got that second goal, it took some of the pressure off and I was able to relax a little bit. When you're only up by one, one thing can go wrong and you're in trouble."
The Caps put away the game in the final minutes on a goal by center Dale Hunter.
Carey, who leads the NHL in goals against average (1.41), will be eager to get back to the ThunderDome on March 29. He gave up just one goal in the home-and-home series that began with a 3-1 victory over the Lightning on Sunday at USAir Arena.
"You've got to just ride the wave," Carey said. "You don't have streaks like this very often. I can attest to that. They don't don't come along every day."
NOTE: A third goal by Jason Noe (DeMatha) earned the Red team a 4-4 tie with the Blue in the Maryland Scholastic Hockey League All-Star Game on Sunday at USAir Arena after the Capitals' game with the Lightning.
Washington ..1 ..0 ..2 ..-- ..3
Tampa Bay ...0 ..0 ..0 ..-- ..0