The Tampa Bay Lightning came out firing on Sunday night, scoring four goals in the first period en route to a 6-3 victory over the visiting Washington Capitals.
Goals by Nikita Kucherov & Nick Perbix were sandwiched between a pair of Mikhail Sergachev scores to send the Amalie Arena into a frenzy time and time again over the first twenty minutes.
Cole Koepke and Nick Paul also scored for Tampa Bay, while Andrei Vasilevskiy made 19 saves in net for his fifth victory of the season.
After putting only one past Washington netminder Darcy Kuemper on Friday night, the Lightning knew they wanted to pepper him early & often on Sunday.
And it didn't take long to find the back of the net.
Just 83 seconds into the game, Sergachev threw a shot from the left point that deflected off of Washington forward Dylan Strome and in to put Tampa Bay ahead 1-0.
But wait, there's more.
Following a penalty to Lars Eller for holding, Tampa Bay made the veteran center pay with their new-look top power play unit.
Sergachev & Brandon Hagel, who were elevated to the top unit last game, hooked up to double the Lightning lead.
Hagel was able to tie up Caps defenseman Nick Jensen, come away with the puck, and slide it perfectly to Sergachev in the middle of the ice. Without hesitation the Tampa Bay point man quickly shoveled the puck to Kucherov, who one-timed a shot past Kuemper to put the Lightning up by a pair.
Perbix scored his third goal of the year when his centering feed from the left wing deflected off of Eric Gustafsson and past Kuemper to make it 3-0 at 11:12.
How about another?
Tampa Bay then went up 4-0 with a power play goal at 16:22. Following some good puck movement in the offensive zone, Sergachev wristed one quickly that evaded Kuemper, but not the back of the net. That shot was the last he would see on the evening. He was then replaced by Charlie Lindgren.
To put an exclamation point on the period Pat Maroon & Matt Irwin threw DOWN as the clock struck zero, with the Big Rig getting the better of the Washington defenseman.
It was a pretty even second period, but Conor Sheary scored at 18:04 to put the Caps on the board.
Everyone in the arena thought Hagel scored the fifth goal for the Bolts.
The key word is "thought".
A few moments before the Hagel "goal", Koepke was all alone in front & it looked like his shot went off the post and out so play continued. But after play stopped, the call came down that Koepke's shot actually went in and it wiped Hagel's tally off the board. The young Lightning winger was grinning ear-to-ear on the bench as he was congratulated by his teammates for his first goal in the NHL.
Eller scored at 16:59 to bring the score to 5-2 and to give Washington a slight glimmer of hope, but Paul scored an empty-netter just 17 seconds later to seal the deal for Tampa Bay.
Garnet Hathaway scored at 17:58 to close the scoring for the evening.
Kuemper stopped only 5 of the 9 shots he saw in this contest. Lindgren stopped 24 of 25.
- Tampa Bay - Sergachev - (Stamkos, Perbix) - 1:23
- Tampa Bay - PPG - Kucherov - (Sergachev, Hagel) - 8:19
- Tampa Bay - Perbix - (Unassisted) - 11:12
- Tampa Bay - PPG - Sergachev (2) - (Stamkos, Kucherov) - 16:22
- Washington - Sheary - (Kuznetsov, Mantha) - 18:04
- Tampa Bay - Koepke - (Point, Maroon) - 13:11
- Washington - Eller - (Johansson, van Riemsdyk) - 16:59
- Tampa Bay - ENG - Paul - (Killorn) - 17:16
- Washington - Hathaway - (Unassisted) - 17:58
- Washington - Eller - (Holding) - 7:58
- Tampa Bay - Hedman - (Interference) - 12:17
- Washington - Hathaway - (Slashing) - 15:12
- Tampa Bay - Maroon - (Roughing) - 20:00
- Tampa Bay - MAJOR - Maroon - (Fighting) - 20:00
- Washington - MAJOR - Irwin - (Fighting) - 20:00
- Tampa Bay - Kucherov - (Tripping) - 9:55
- Washington - DOUBLE MINOR - Ovechkin - (High Sticking) - 13:32
- Tampa Bay - Maroon - (Roughing) - 19:10
- Washington - MAJOR - Irwin - (Fighting) - 19:10
- Tampa Bay - MAJOR - Bellemare - (Fighting) - 19:10
- Washington - Strome - (Hooking) - 19:29
- Tampa Bay - Kucherov - (Hooking) - 0:59
- Tampa Bay - Hagel - (Interference) - 6:52
What's Next For The Bolts : The Lightning are back in action on Tuesday night as they welcome the Dallas Stars to Amalie Arena. Puck drop is slated for 7:00pm.
PHOTO : Getty Images