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Associated Press
12/19/2006 9:39:20 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) - Vincent Lecavalier scored his 200th career goal and assisted on Martin St. Louis' 21st and 22nd of the season, helping the Tampa Bay Lightning build a big lead they nearly gave away before beating the Washington Capitals 5-4 Tuesday night.

Defenceman Filip Kuba added a goal and two assists, and Nikita Alexeev also scored for Tampa Bay, which snapped a four-game losing streak. The Lightning outshot the Capitals 29-9 through two periods while taking a 5-2 lead, bringing loud boos from an announced crowd of 10,417.

Washington's Kris Beech and Bryan Muir scored in the third period to make it a one-goal game with about 7½ minutes left, but Lightning goalie Marc Denis managed to hold on for only his second win in his last 12 starts.

Alex Ovechkin scored his 23rd goal and had an assist for the Capitals, who had won seven of nine. Jamie Heward scored Washington's other goal.

In the teams' previous meeting, Nov. 28 at Tampa, Washington won 5-2 behind Olaf Kolzig's career-high 48 saves to end its six-game winless drought. That loss began a 1-7-1 slide for Tampa Bay entering Tuesday; for the Capitals, that game was the start of a 7-1-1 roll.

The Capitals have been dominant at the start lately, outscoring opponents 14-4 in the first period of those nine games. But Washington came out flat Tuesday, outshot 17-5 and outscored 3-1 in the opening period.

It took the Capitals 10 minutes just to put their first shot on goal. By that point, the Lightning had taken six shots - and one had gone in, at the 7:34 mark on Kuba's power-play goal off a rebound Kolzig couldn't control.

The Lightning went up 2-0 at the 12:54 mark on a breakaway just as a Capitals power play ended. As they crossed the blue-line together, Lecavalier passed to St. Louis, who scored for the fourth game in a row.

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