Lightning (6-5-1, 13 Points) vs. Capitals (4-8-1, 9 Points)
TV/Radio: Sun Sports HD; NHL Network; AM 970 WFLA
This is the second of four meetings between the Southeast Division rivals. The two clubs met to kick off the 2013 season back on January 19 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, a game in which Eric Brewer and Martin St. Louis each scored twice to help the Lightning to a 6-3 win. The teams will face off again on April 7 and April 13, respectively, at the Verizon Center in the nation’s capital.
Tampa Bay’s winless streak has reached five games, although the Lightning did pick up a crucial point in the standings on Tuesday night that helped the Bolts keep pace behind first-place Carolina in the division. Washington, meanwhile, although still at the bottom of the division, has won two straight and looks to keep the trend going as it seeks to climb back up the standings.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay wraps up a two-game home stand Thursday, as the team will then travel the short distance south to Sunrise for a Saturday afternoon matinee with the Panthers. If there was a character point to be had in Tuesday’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Montreal Canadiens, the Lightning got it, although it took a little longer than they would have liked. Facing a three-goal deficit with under six minutes to play, Victor Hedman scored twice to record his first career multi-goal game, and Sami Salo notched the game-tying goal on a 6-on-4 power play with 43 seconds left to force overtime for the first time this season. Anders Lindback was spectacular at times in net for the Lightning, but couldn’t stop Habs forward David Desharnais in the shootout, as the Bolts’ winless streak reached five games and Montreal snapped a three-game skid of its own.
CAPITALS – Washington comes to the Bay Area to face the Lightning to complete a two-game set through the Sunshine State that began Tuesday at Florida. Although the Capitals are last in the Eastern Conference and tied for last in the 30-team league, the team appears to be finding their form. The Capitals have won two straight games for the first time this season, including their most recent contest, a 6-5 overtime thriller against the Panthers. Troy Brouwer scored 32 seconds into overtime as Washington rallied from a 5-3 deficit to earn its first road win of the year. Mike Ribeiro, Karl Alzner, Matt Hendricks, Eric Fehr and Alex Ovechkin also had goals for the Capitals, with the team’s six-goal output marking its highest thus far through 13 games this season. Over the past two games, the Capitals have combined to score a total of 11 goals, one more than the team’s entire total during the month of February prior to that.
Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman notched a single-game career-high total of two goals in his last outing on Tuesday night and is now tied for second among league defensemen with four markers on the season. Benoit Pouliot has also notched two goals and six points over his past seven games. For Washington, Alex Ovechkin enters the contest riding a five-game point streak, with three goals and seven points in that span.
LIGHTNING – Matt Taormina (Upper Body, Placed On Injured Reserve) and Ryan Malone (Lower Body, Placed On Injured Reserve). CAPITALS – Marcus Johansson (Upper Body), Jack Hillen (Upper Body) and Brooks Laich (Groin).
Washington's Roman Hamrlik was the first draft choice in Lightning franchise history, getting selected first overall in 1992. Hamrlik is the only member of the inaugural 1992-93 Lightning team still playing in the NHL. He accumulated 52 goals and 133 assists over 287 games with the Bolts from 1992-93 to 1997-98, representing the team at the 1996 NHL All-Star Game in Boston. Nate Thompson and Capitals forward Joey Crabb were teammates during the NHL lockout with the Alaska Aces of the ECHL. Former Lightning assistant Adam Oates is now serving as head coach of the Capitals.
“We take this one point and build on a positive. Come in today and practice hard, and keep our heads up.” – Victor Hedman, following Tuesday’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Canadiens, a game in which the Bolts overcame a three-goal deficit to force overtime and collect an important point in the standings
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