Washington, DC, United States (AHN Sports) – Steven Stamkos scored the go-ahead goal in the second period to spark the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 4-2 win over the Washington Capitals Friday in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal showdown at Verizon Center.
Coming off a two-game scoring drought, Stamkos stepped up just in time and delivered a crucial goal on a power play to break a 2-2 deadlock at 19:28 of the second period.
Stamkos’ goal proved to be the turning point of the match as the Capitals struggled to score the equalizer the rest of the way.
Finally at 19:20 of the third period, center Dominic Moore scored on an empty-net opportunity to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead in their best-of-seven series.
Stamkos’ go-ahead goal gave him the game’s one-star nod, while Steve Downie and Sean Bergenheim received the two and three star, respectively.
Bergenheim opened up the scoring at 2:12 of the first period with his nine-foot wrist shot off a feed from Downie and Mike Lundin.
Less than two minutes later, Capitals left winger Alexander Semin tied the score at 1-1 with his 13-foot wrist shot.
The Capitals took a 2-1 advantage early in the match following a 12-foot wrist shot from Eric Fehr at 1:51, but Downie netted the equalizer at 16:17 of the second period.
After booting out the New York Rangers in five games, the top-seeded Capitals looked rusty after allowing 12 giveaways in the series-opener.
Meanwhile, the Lightning rellied on the steady net-minding performance of 41-year-old Dwayne Roloson, who stopped 26 shots in the match.
The Lightning, who overcame the Pittsburgh Penguins in seven games, will have the opportunity to take a commanding 2-0 lead against the Capitals Sunday at Verizon Center.