So how did tonight's game go against the Lightning, who are trailing the Caps in the standings?
Answer: not well. The first period went reasonably well, with the Bolts ahead on shots, but the Caps ahead on chances. The downside: the Bolts converted on one of their chances. The Caps? Not so much.
Things went downhill quickly after that, especially for Hendricks. Early in the second, the Caps had the offense going pretty well in the offensive zone, when Hendricks got the puck at the point, in the middle, and went to pass it over to a defenseman at the wall, just to keep the puck moving. Well, he didn't lift it, and Stamkos poked it to center ice, where he had a clean breakaway. As you'd more or less expect, he converted that for his 40th goal of the season.
And yeah, as things have been going for quite a while now; allow two? You lose.
Perreault and Laich did combine on a nice bang-bang play to bring the margin back within one, but it was all Tampa, the rest of the way. The Caps taking two dumb penalties in the third (and not getting the calls when the Lightning appeared to have returned the favor), did not help any.
So, all hope is not lost, but things are not looking good, going forward. The Panthers stay two points ahead, and get a game in hand.
Now the Caps get a day off, then get to face Carolina in Raleigh, on Monday. Let's hope they play a lot more like they did last night than they played tonight.