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Capitals welcome back John Carlson, pound Lightning

Nov 11, 2022; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) makes a save against Washington Capitals left wing Conor Sheary (73) during the first period at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

Sonny Milano scored his first two goals for Washington, John Carlson returned from a six-game absence and notched his 600th career point and the Capitals beat the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning 5-1 on Friday night.

Carlson, a defenseman, set up left winger Milano on a breakaway for the milestone point. Milano scored again on a pass that went in off the Lightning’s Steven Stamkos in the third. Carlson’s fellow blue-liner Nick Jensen had an assist for his 100th career point.

Anthony Mantha, Aliaksei Protas and Conor Sheary tallied, while goaltender Darcy Kuemper stopped 28 shots. Head coach Peter Laviolette (COVID protocol) was absent from the game, with assistant coach Kevin McCarthy replacing him.

Washington finished its season-long homestand with a 2-2-0 mark and won for the second time in the past seven games (2-3-2).

Tampa Bay’s Nick Perbix scored his second career goal and has points in three straight matches, but Nikita Kucherov’s 11-game point streak ended. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 19 saves.

In the first match of a home-and-home set, Kuemper — who beat the Lightning as a member of the Colorado Avalanche in last season’s Stanley Cup Final — stuffed Kucherov’s breakaway attempt early.

Washington took the lead when Lars Eller sent a blind, cross-ice pass through to the right circle right on the tape for Mantha, who flipped in his fifth goal at 10:32.

Bad blood developed in the second when Washington’s Nicolas Aube-Kubel hit Cal Foote high, leaving the Lightning defenseman bleeding and sending him to the dressing room. Aube-Kubel was assessed a five-minute major for a hit to the head and ejected with a match penalty.

But Washington killed the penalty, and to make matters worse, Milano — serving the match penalty — bolted out of the penalty box and in for a breakaway at 7:03. Carlson’s stretch pass to set up Milano was the only assist.

Just over seven minutes later, Protas cleaned up a rebound of Jensen’s long blast for his third goal to put Washington up 3-0.

In the final frame, Sheary helped put the game away when he streaked through the middle of the offensive zone after a poor Lightning line change and potted his fifth marker at 4:53.

After Perbix’s tally at 12:09 broke up Kuemper’s shutout bid, the teams had multiple players fight as tempers heightened in the chippy matchup that will be revisited Sunday in Tampa.

–Field Level Media