Vincent Lecavalier scored two goals and Martin St. Louis had the lone shootout goal, leading Tampa Bay past the Washington Capitals 3-2 on Thursday night. The Lightning, who appeared earlier this season in jeopardy of missing the playoffs just three years after winning the Stanley Cup, have won 14 of 17 and are one point behind the Southeast Division-leading Atlanta Thrashers.
"I was happy we just got the one point to start with before the shootout because any point is good right now," Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella said. "As much as I was (unhappy) at most of the game as far as our intensity level, you've got to give them high marks to find a way to get it done. Good teams find ways to get it done."
Lecavalier has a career-high 39 goals, three shy of Brian Bradley's team record set during the 1992-93 season. Lecavalier has scored a goal in 15 of 19 games.
"We keep after teams and keep pressuring them," Lecavalier said.
Washington's Dainius Zubrus forced overtime when he scored from the slot after a turnover by Tampa Bay with 14.9 seconds left in the third.
"It's upsetting, but we can take a lot of positive things out of the game," Zubrus said.
Alexander Semin also scored for the Capitals, who have lost 11 of their last 12 road games. Washington played for the first time without injured goalie Olaf Kolzig, who hurt his knee in practice Monday and is expected to miss at least three weeks.
Semin scored his 30th goal during a power play to put Washington ahead 1-0 at 9:07 of the first.
Lecavalier tied it at one with a power-play goal at 2:44 of the second, which came after Capitals goalie Brent Johnson received a delay of game penalty. The Tampa Bay centre made it 2-1 on his career-best third short-handed goal of the season from the right circle with 12:55 left in the period.
Washington all-star Alexander Ovechkin didn't record a point for the fourth time in six games. Tampa Bay goalie Marc Denis made a glove save on Ovechkin's shot from the left circle during a power play midway through the third.
Ovechkin has one goal and an assist over the past six games. He was one of three Capitals who failed to score on Denis during the shootout.
Denis finished with 36 saves, including 16 in the third.
"I thought we were going to pull it out," said Johnson, who stopped 27 shots. "Denis came up with some big saves. It could have been a different scoring game if he hadn't played well in the third period. We were just firing on all cylinders."
Notes: Lecavalier has 14 power-play goals. ... Capitals D John Erskine (broken foot) played for the first since Dec. 16, while Brian Pothier (upper body) returned after missing 10 games. D Mike Green was assigned to Hershey of the AHL. ... Dan Boyle assisted on Lecavalier's first goal to become the Lightning's all-time scoring leader for defencemen with 210 points.