Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Washington Keeps Capitalizing

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Washington Keeps Capitalizing

Article excerpt

The way the Washington Capitals have been playing should please coach Jim Schoenfeld. It hasn't.

Even though his team defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2 on Wednesday night to improve to 10-2-2 over their last 14 games, the condensed Eastern Conference-only schedule won't allow him to relax.

"With the way the schedule is this year, you don't ever get breathing room," Schoenfeld said. "It's a situation that's tough on the players. They have to be on top of their game every shift of every game because every point is critical.

"If you put together a three or four-game win streak you gain ground on somebody. If you lose three or four in a row, someone is gaining on you."

Steve Konowalchuk scored twice and rookie goaltender Jim Carey made 24 saves for his 10th victory. Washington (13-12-7) defeated Tampa Bay for the third successive game and finished the season series with a 3-0-1 advantage.

The Capitals, second in the Atlantic Division with 33 points, are 5-1 in their last six road games. Tampa Bay (12-17-2) lost for the sixth time in seven home games.

Carey (10-2-2) finally allowed a power-play goal by Roman Hamrlik at 7:16 of the third period. Carey had not allowed a goal in 158:26 against the Lightning since Petr Klima scored in the first period of the Capitals' 3-1 victory on March 12.

Hamrlik's 10th goal moved him into the top spot among defenseman goal-scoring leaders. Chris Gratton added a power-play goal at 9:40 of the third on an assist from Klima, who earned his 500th career point on the play.

Carey said his teammates are making his job easy. "They're playing great right now," he said. "There is a lot of confidence on this team right now, and they've been scoring when it counts."

The Capitals dominated the opening period, outshooting the Lightning 14-5 and taking a 2-0 lead on goals by Konowalchuk and Peter Bondra. Konowalchuk scored on a shorthanded breakaway at 15:33, seconds after being stopped by Tampa Bay goaltender Daren Puppa on a similar breakaway. …

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