For much of the season, virtually every shot Peter Bondra took ended up hitting a post, a stick or a glove. The same could be said for the Washington Capitals, the second-lowest scoring team in the NHL.
All that changed Wednesday night.
Bondra had four goals and the Capitals scored a team-record eight times in the second period en route to a 10-1 rout of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
"I don't think I played bad before, but the puck hit the goalie in the stomach or hit a post or whatever," Bondra said. "With a break or a little luck before, it would be a different story for me and maybe the team."
Bondra scored 52 goals last season and the Capitals won the Eastern Conference championship. But before the offensive barrage against the Lightning, Bondra had only 17 goals in 46 games and the Capitals, in dire danger of missing the playoffs, were averaging a mere 2.34 goals per outing.
The eight goals in one period snapped the franchise record of seven and was tied for the second-most in NHL history behind a nine-goal outburst by Buffalo against Toronto in 1981. The Capitals took a team-record 25 shots in the second period and had 46 overall, seven short of the team mark.
Brian Bellows had two goals and an assist in the Capitals' first 10-goal game since February 1993.
"To be honest, I wasn't happy until we went up 3- or 4-1 because we were allowing them to hang around," Capitals coach Ron Wilson said. "The guys had some fun and we scored some goals. But we had almost as many scoring chances in other games and didn't score."
The 10 goals tied a season high in the NHL. The Lightning were also involved in one of the other two, losing 10-2 to the New York angers on Nov. 10. Toronto also hit double digits in a 10-3 romp over Chicago on Nov. 12.
Mike Sillinger scored for the Lightning, who have lost five straight.
"If tonight isn't rock bottom, I don't know what is," Sillinger said.
"Our defensive coverage was just absolutely non-existent," said Lightning assistant Rick Patterson, who stood behind the bench in place of head coach Jacques Demers. "How many men were open - wide open - in front of our net? The defense ran around, the forwards weren't checking. Everything that could go wrong defensively did."
Bondra's second hat trick of the season was his 12th with the Capitals, one short of the franchise mark held by Mike Gartner. Bondra's wraparound goal was the only score of the first period, and after the Lightning drew even Bondra scored twice in a 35-second span to make it 3-1 midway through the second period.
His fourth goal at 14:33 put Washington ahead 7-1. Bondra, who five years ago scored five goals against Tampa Bay, has 27 in 27 career games against the Lightning.
Calle Johansson scored his 100th career goal to make it 4-1, and Tampa Bay goaltender Bill Ranford replaced starter Corey Schwab after Bellows scored to make it 5-1 at 12:25.
It didn't matter much, in part because the Lightning were playing without three injured defensemen. Joe Juneau scored at 13:40, followed by Bondra, James Black at 16:56 and Jaroslav Svejkovsky at 19:20.
The victory gave the Capitals only their third winning streak of the season and ended a four-game skid at home. Washington, which is coming off a 3-1 win over the New York Rangers, is desperately trying to get back into the playoff picture.
"We've just got to build on this, but we can't get too excited," Wilson said.
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