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Lecavalier nets 51st goal, leads Lightning past Caps

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Lightning avoided a letdown one day after a big win.

Vincent Lecavalier scored his 51st goal and had two assists to lead the Lightning past the Washington Capitals 5-2 on Saturday night.

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Tampa Bay was coming off a 4-2 win Friday at Carolina, which followed two consecutive home losses.

"It was important for it to stand," Lightning coach John Tortorella said. "(Friday's) game was probably one of the grittier games we've played. My fear, coming back home, was not being ready to play hard again. I thought we played another gritty game."

Martin St. Louis added a short-handed goal and an assist. The Lightning remained three points behind Southeast Division-leading Atlanta, which beat Boston 3-2 earlier Saturday. Tampa Bay also stayed in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of the New York Rangers.

"We've got to keep it going," Lecavalier said. "A loss today would have eliminated a little bit of what we did last night. When you win a big game, an emotional game like we did against Carolina, we've got to come back and back it up. If you don't do that, it definitely hurts you."

Tampa Bay had other goals from Ryan Craig, Dan Boyle and Jason Ward, who scored into an empty net with 1.7 seconds left.

Matt Pettinger and Matt Bradley scored for the Capitals, who have lost six in a row. Washington has also dropped nine straight and 22 of 24 on the road.

Lecavalier, who has 106 points this season, scored from in close 36 seconds in. He has nine goals and 16 points in eight games against Washington.

After Pettinger tied it at 11:16, Craig made it 2-1 on his first goal in 18 games with 6:31 left in the first.

Boyle extended Tampa Bay's advantage to 3-1 with a power-play goal at 18:04 of the second. The goal came after Washington had three clearing attempts stolen in its zone.

The Lightning power play came about after Alexander Semin was given a penalty for closing his hand on the puck. Semin played just two shifts in the third.

"It's unfortunate for Alexander, because it kind of comes to a head, but we have to address taking penalties," Washington coach Glen Hanlon said. "When we play so well in large parts of games, we just can't afford to do those things. The good teams don't do those things."

Hanlon held a team meeting after the game. Afterward, while talking to reporters, the sound of a stick being smashed was heard in a nearby hallway.

Reporters later found one of Alex Ovechkin's sticks shattered, and an iPod broken into numerous pieces.

Ovechkin was not in the locker room when it was opened to reporters.

"Losing, it's just frustrating," Washington right wing Chris Clark said. "Sometimes you need to let off steam like that."

Washington goalie Olie Kolzig called Semin's penalty the "turning point of the game."

"It was a great game," Kolzig said. "It was a nothing play."

St. Louis scored his 43rd goal while the Lightning were short-handed with 12:25 to play. He has 101 points.

Bradley cut the Washington deficit to 4-2 with 53.5 seconds remaining.

Lightning goalie Johan Holmqvist made 23 saves. Kolzig stopped 24 shots.

Game notes
Clark extended his point streak to seven games with an assist. He has eight points during the stretch. ... St. Louis extended his point streak to six games (four goals, eight points). He has six goals and six assists in eight games this season against the Capitals. ... Washington is 6-31-6 when its opponent scores first.