NHL: Lightning put another dent in Caps’ dim playoff hopes

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Pat Maroon scored twice, Steven Stamkos and Alex Killorn each had a goal and an assist and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the visiting Washington Capitals 5-1 on Thursday night.

The victory allowed the Lightning (44-26-6, 94 points) to clinch the season series by winning two of the three matchups, including a 6-3 decision in Tampa on Nov. 13.

Maroon netted two in the third period on rebounds while Stamkos recorded his second consecutive multipoint game and third in the past four outings. Erik Cernak scored and Anthony Cirelli posted two assists.

After Tuesday’s shutout of the Carolina Hurricanes, goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (33-20-4) again manned the crease and stopped 30 shots.

The loss was a damaging blow to the playoff hopes of Washington (34-33-9, 77 points), which hasn’t missed the postseason since the 2013-14 campaign.

Craig Smith tallied and goalie Darcy Kuemper (21-24-6) stopped 29 shots as the Capitals slipped to 1-4-2 in their past seven and 5-6-3 in March.

Washington right winger T.J. Oshie skated only seven shifts totaling 6:07 and was ruled out late in the match with an upper-body injury.

In the final meeting between the teams, the Lightning’s stout power-play unit clicked on its second opportunity when Killorn redirected a shot for his 24th goal at 9:20.

It marked just the second time this season that Killorn had hit the back of the net on a power play.

With time winding down in the frame, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare won a faceoff that soon ended up on Stamkos’ stick.

The captain then fired in his 32nd with just three seconds remaining in the period.

During the second period after a sluggish first 20 minutes, Washington’s offense pepped up and finally cashed in on an odd play with 3:50 to play.

A long shot by Anthony Mantha that hit the end boards was collected behind Vasilevskiy’s net by Smith, who attempted to pass the puck into the slot. But it hit the netminder’s skate and went in for Smith’s seventh goal.

At 4:30 into the third, Maroon pushed the lead to 3-1 when he established inside position on Washington’s Dylan Strome and cleaned up a shot in close for his fourth marker and second in the past five games.

Maroon added another and Cernak ended the scoring with an empty-netter for his second goal with less than two minutes left.

–Field Level Media

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