Eric Fehr swooped through the offensive zone as time ticked away in Tampa on Thursday, determined to make some luck for himself. When his initial chance on the rush went unsuccessful but the Washington Capitals maintained possession, Fehr took his 6-foot-4, 212-pound frame to the front of the net for a perfectly-placed deflection that earned him the game-winning goal against the Lightning.

It was Fehr’s second goal of the night, his eighth goal and 19th point of the season. And it came with Fehr playing on the Capitals’ top line opposite Alex Ovechkin — quite the role for the 28-year-old winger who not long ago wondered if he would play in the NHL again.

“I thought since Day One when he’s got the chance he’s never let it go,” Coach Adam Oates said. “He’s got a great skill set offensively. Every little situation that I've asked him to do he’s responded and had some success. I've been very happy for him and he’s been very good for us.”

Plagued by shoulder injuries — he’s had surgery three times, twice on the right — and unable to live up to the expectations of being a first-round draft pick through the first seven years of his NHL career, Fehr became a free agent in the summer of 2012 when his hometown Winnipeg Jets opted not to submit a minimum qualifying offer to retain his rights.

So when the lockout took hold last fall, Fehr went to Finland with hopes of rediscovering his game and maybe doing enough to earn a second chance in the NHL. He got his wish a year ago Monday, when the Capitals brought him back on a league-minimum contract to add depth up front.

Seventy-six games into his second stint with Washington, the team that drafted him in 2003, Fehr is a more self-assured player who has turned into one of the team’s most reliable and versatile forwards. Much of that is due to finally being healthy — Fehr hasn’t had a problem with his shoulders since the 2011-12 season. But it is also because of his willingness to adapt and improve his game.