The Tampa Bay Lightning ring in the new year in our nation’s capital when they face-off against the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center tonight.
The Lightning (10-16-19), will be looking to extend their point streak to a fifth consecutive game; they had a three-game win streak snapped by the Montreal Canadiens in a shootout on Thursday night in Tampa.
The Capitals (24-11-3) have been riding high all season and currently sit comfortably atop the Southeast Division standings. They have been particularly lethal at home, where they have compiled a 15-1-1 record, the best home record in the Eastern Conference.
Tonight’s contest is the second of six meetings between the Lightning and the Capitals this season with Washington winning the first match-up, 4-2, on November 10th.
The Bolts have picked up their scoring pace of late, led by Martin St. Louis and Ryan Malone, each producing seven points over the last four games. St. Louis has the team lead in overall points with 32, two ahead of Vincent Lecavalier.
The Capitals have five skaters with 11 or more goals on the season, but setting the pace is all-star forward Alex Ovechkin with 25 goals (second best in the NHL) and 24 assists. His 49 points is has him in third place in that category among all NHL players. Nicklas Backstrom trails Ovechkin by only seven points, and his 31 assists are fifth best in the NHL. With so much offensive power to call on, it’s not surprising that Washington’s power play has been connecting at a 23.6 % clip; sixth best in the NHL.
After tonight’s contest, the Lightning return home to meet division-rival Carolina Panthers on Saturday night. That will be the final home game for Tampa Bay for a while, as their next five will be played on the road during a swing that will take the team as far west as California.