January 1, 2009

NHL: Washington 7, Tampa Bay 4

Alex Ovechkin had two assists and scored the last goal Thursday night in a Washington onslaught that gave the Capitals a 7-4 win over Tampa Bay.

Washington won its fifth straight and increased its lead over second-place Carolina to 12 points in the Southeast Division.

Goals by Sean Collins, Dave Steckel and Mike Green gave Washington a 3-0 lead after one period, but on three separate occasions the Lightning clawed back to within a goal.

Chris Clark, however, made it a 6-4 game with 7:13 to play and Ovechkin scored his 26th of the season with 1:46 to go.

The goals by Collins and Clark were their first of the season. Collins was recently called up from the minors and Clark has been out for more than a month with a forearm injury.

All seven Washington goals were scored against Mike Smith, who made 28 saves -- and who had come into the game with a goals-against average of 2.42.

Brent Johnson stopped 21 shots to get the win.

Vincent Lecavalier scored twice in the second period for Tampa Bay, which lost its second straight.