TAMPA, Fla. — Lars Eller and Garnet Hathaway scored 44 seconds apart early in the third period and the NHL-leading Washington Capitals beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2 on Saturday night.


Ellers scored from the left circle at 1:58 and Hathaway made it 3-1 from in-close.

Nicklas Backstrom, T.J Oshie and Tom Wilson had the other Washington goals, and rookie goalie Ilya Samsonov stopped 26 shots.

Tampa Bay got goals from Brayden Point and Jan Rutta. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 29 saves.

Tampa Bay Lightning Brayden Point
Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

The Lightning dropped to 8-7-1 at home, matching the total of losses (32-7-2) from all of last season.

Tampa Bay’s overall record this season is 16-12-3. The Lightning, who tied an NHL-record for wins (62-16-4) in 2018-19, didn’t lose their 12th game in regulation until Feb. 28 (49-12-4).


Lightning star Nikita Kucherov, last season’s NHL MVP, left midway through the second after taking John Carlson’s shot off the right foot-shin area and did not return.

Rutta stopped a 30-game goal drought at 11:16 of the third but Oshie put the Capitals up 4-2 just 1:03 later.

Wilson added an empty-netter.

Backstrom opened the scoring at 6:42 of the first. Rutta was getting ready to make a pass when teammate Ondrej Palat skated in front of him behind the net on a breakout play and had the puck go off his skate right to Backstrom in the low slot.

Nicklas Backstrom Washington Capitals
Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Samsonov kicked out his left leg to stop an in-close back-hander by Mikhail Sergachev early in the first. Kevin Shattenkirk sent a shot from a tough angle behind Samsonov later in the period but the puck went through the crease along the goal line and went off the post.

Soon after Vasilevskiy made a short-handed glove save when Carl Hagelin’s shot that went off Lightning defenceman Victor Hedman, Point tied it a 1 from the slot 5:45 into the second.

NOTES

Washington is 15-2-1 on the road. … Backstrom has 14 goals and 61 points in 51 games against Tampa Bay. … Kucherov assisted on Point’s goal and has a 12-game point streak (nine assists, 18 points) against the Capitals.

UP NEXT

Capitals: At Columbus on Monday night.

Lightning: Host Ottawa on Tuesday night.

___

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Mark Didtler, The Associated Press