Lightning (17-21-2, 36 Points) at Capitals (22-17-2, 46 Points)
TV/Radio: Fox Sports Florida; AM 970 WFLA
This is the fourth and final meeting between the long-time Southeast Division rivals. After Tampa Bay took the first meeting by a 6-3 score back in the season opener on January 19, Washington went on to win each of the next two, including the most recent contest last week in the nation’s capital.
The Big Story:
The NHL’s top two leading goal scorers face off tonight in a preview perhaps of this year’s Rocket Richard Trophy race, as both the Lightning’s Steven Stamkos and the Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin come in with 26 goals apiece. Tampa Bay also looks to rebound from a loss in its most recent contest, but it might be difficult seeing that the Saturday’s game is the first of a four-game road trip, on which the Bolts have just six wins in 19 games this season. Washington, meanwhile, enters the matchup on a six-game win streak, looking to pad its lead in the Southeast Division to more than just a slim two-point margin over the Winnipeg Jets.
LIGHTNING – The Bolts set out on a four-game road trip that has them compete in games against two Southeast Division rivals in Washington and Winnipeg, in addition to a pair of games in Buffalo and Montreal. The Lightning have just one win in their past four games, as it seems like the team is faltering in staying in the playoff race. Entering Friday, the Bolts remained eight points out of the final playoff spot, and a 6-3 loss at home to the Penguins on Thursday night certainly didn’t help. Teddy Purcell scored two power-play goals on the night, and Brett Connolly had his first goal since being recalled from Syracuse of the AHL, but three Pittsburgh goals allowed all in the third period quickly turned a close one-goal game after 40 minutes into a one-sided affair. Ben Bishop made his fifth consecutive start in net, making 35 saves on 41 shots for Tampa Bay, which did find success on the power play throughout the night, going 3-for-4.
CAPITALS – Washington hosts the Bolts in the second of what is three straight games at home slated on the schedule. The Capitals are seeking their seventh consecutive victory, and fifth straight at home. They're currently in the midst of their longest winning streak since beginning 2011-12 on a seven-game run and have gone 10-1-1 over their last 12, a stretch that began with a two-game road sweep of the Jets on March 21 and 22. Washington improved to 13-3-0 versus the Southeast with Thursday's 3-1 win over Carolina, a game in which Troy Brouwer scored twice, and Mike Green added a goal, to help Washington overcome a one-goal deficit and score three times in succession to get the win behind a 43-save performance by goaltender Braden Holtby.
For the Lightning, Martin St. Louis is riding a three-game assist streak with four helpers in that span, while Teddy Purcell has collected two goals and three points over his past two contests. The Capitals’ Nicklas Backstrom comes in enjoying an eight-game point streak with a goal and 13 assists over that span and Alex Ovechkin has registered six goals in his past four outings.
Former Lightning assistant Adam Oates is now serving as head coach of the Capitals.
Twitter Stat Pack:
Each team has scored 11 goals each through the first three games of the season series.
Martin St. Louis has recorded three goals and three assists in three games against the Capitals this season.
The Lightning are looking for their first win in Washington since Jan. 4, 2011.
Tampa Bay has scored 20 goals over their past six games. Steven Stamkos has the most goals since the start of the 2009-10 season with 182 in that span, while Alex Ovechkin ranks right behind him in second place with 146.
“We just have a lot of things to learn. They have a mentality right now and you're not going to change it overnight. We were passing up an 'A' opportunity for a 'B' opportunity, and that's the mentality we have to get out of our heads.” – Lightning head coach Jon Cooper
|Back to top ↑|