February 21, 2018 / 2:55 AM / in a year

Lightning strike early, hold on to beat Capitals

Brayden Point set the tone with two goals in the opening period and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Washington Capitals 4-2 in a battle of division leaders in the Eastern Conference at Capital One Arena on Tuesday night.

Nikita Kucherov, who leads the league with 78 points, and Chris Kunitz also scored for Tampa Bay, which snapped a three-game losing streak on the road. The Lightning also won for just the second time in the past 12 matchups in Washington.

Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy came up huge again, finishing with 35 saves to help his team maintain the early lead.

Washington’s Alex Ovechkin pulled his team to within 3-2 with just under nine minutes left in the game. He leads the league with 36 goals and needs six more to reach 600 in his NHL career.

However, Kucherov responded for Tampa Bay just over a minute later with a goal that helped seal the win. The Capitals outshot Tampa Bay 37-19.

To boost their blue line, the Capitals acquired defenseman Michal Kempny from the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday for a conditional third-round draft pick. Kempny was a scratch but he could make his debut Thursday against the Florida Panthers.

Washington, which was coming off a hard-fought 3-2 win over Buffalo on Monday, could not get much going offensively early against Tampa Bay

The Lightning took advantage of an interference penalty on the Capitals’ Brett Connolly with a goal by Point just 2:30 into the opening period. Tampa Bay took a 2-0 lead with four minutes remaining when Kunitz deflected a longs shot by Andrej Sustr past Braden Holtby. The Lightning continued to maintain the pressure and had a three-goal cushion when Point scored again two minutes later.

The Capitals pulled to within 3-1 on a power-play goal by Lars Eller with 10:28 left in the second period. Washington continued to dominate and outshot Tampa Bay 14-5, but couldn’t find a way to beat Vasilevskiy

Sustr was in the lineup after receiving 23 stitches to close facial cuts in a 4-3 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Saturday

Holtby finished with 15 saves.

—Field Level Media

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