Twenty-six minutes into Saturday night’s game at Verizon Center the Washington Capitals appeared unstoppable. In possession of a four-goal lead against a wayward Tampa Bay Lightning squad, the Caps were cruising toward their seventh consecutive victory.

Then the Capitals lost sight of their game, let up, allowed Tampa Bay to score four consecutive goals and push a game that seemed like an automatic victory to overtime.

Mike Green made sure the blown lead wouldn’t be a costly lesson. With 2 minutes 59 seconds gone in overtime, Green blasted a slap shot from the top of the circles on a power play past Tampa Bay netminder Mathieu Garon, giving the Capitals a crucial 6-5 win.

“We got the two points but how we play in the third period, we can’t do like that,” said Alex Ovechkin, who recorded a goal and assist in the win and now has 24 points in the past 15 games and leads the NHL in goals scored. “We can’t give team that skilled [those] kind of opportunities out there. It’s just embarrassing.”

While the game was certainly closer than it needed to be, Washington came away with its 11th win in the past 13 games and two points that tightened its grasp on the division lead. The Capitals sit atop the Southeast with 48 points, four ahead of the Winnipeg Jets.

Saturday marked the first time that the Capitals have blown a four-goal lead since December 11, 2006, according to STATS. That time they weren’t so lucky, falling 5-4 in a shootout to Pittsburgh.

But this lost lead was the second time in a week that they gave up three third-period goals to put a game in jeopardy.

“We sat back on our heels and let them come at us and score goals and we can’t let that happen, starting with myself,” said Green, who has recorded the game-winning goal in the past two games.

“Tomorrow we’re going to wake up and we have our two points. That’s all that matters and this game’s put away but we have to learn from this,” Green said. “We can’t let situations like that happen.”

What concluded as an overtime thriller certainly didn’t begin like one. With 13:45 gone in the first, on Washington’s fourth power play of the game, Mike Ribeiro found Troy Brouwer open near the hash marks and the rangy winger blasted a slap shot past Ben Bishop for a 1-0 lead to spark an offensive outburst.

Five minutes later, the fourth line worked to put Washington up 2-0. Matt Hendricks checked Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman in the Capitals’ zone creating a turnover that sent Jay Beagle and Aaron Volpatti racing up ice on a 2-on-2. As the duo entered the zone, Beagle surveyed the scene and found defenseman Jack Hillen joining the rush. Hillen snapped the puck glove side for his second goal in three games.