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Capitals left vulnerable in playoff race after Stamkos show

(Reuters) - Two goals by scoring machine Steven Stamkos in the final minute gave the Tampa Bay Lightning a 4-2 win over Washington on Monday, leaving the Capitals under pressure in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Sitting in the eighth and final post-season spot, the Capitals (40-32-8) had a chance to gain some breathing room but the loss left them in a vulnerable position just two points in front of ninth-place Buffalo with two games remaining.

Washington were on the verge of at least earning a point, tied 2-2 late in the third, but Stamkos buried the game-winner right in front of the goal with 1:03 left and added an empty-net score in the last seconds to run his NHL-leading goal total to 58 on the season.

It was a brutal loss for the Capitals who also could have moved within a point of Southeast division-leader Florida and are now in danger of missing the playoffs altogether.

Alexander Semin put visiting Washington ahead 1-0 in the second period, but Teddy Purcell and Victor Hedman responded five minutes later to put the Lightning (37-35-7) in control.

Jason Chimera came up with the game-tying score at 16:43 in the third but it was quickly erased as Stamkos seized the spotlight and sent the Capitals home sulking.

(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles. Editing by Patrick Johnston)

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