The Tampa Bay Lightning host the potent offense of the Washington Capitals at the St. Pete Times Forum tonight.
This will be the fourth of a total of six games between these two clubs this season, with Washington taking all three of the previous games.
Tampa Bay, however, will be looking to end that streak of losses, and they’ve been playing some good hockey to back that up with. The Lightning (23-32-15) are undefeated in their last four games, going 2-0-2 while earning six points. They took the Maple Leafs to a six-man shootout before finally succumbing to Toronto, 4-3, on Tuesday night.
The Lightning continue to be lead by Martin St. Louis with 71 points. St. Louis has been on a scoring binge of late, collecting four goals and five assists while compiling a six-game point streak. He has earned four assists in the three games this season against the Capitals.
Vincent Lecavalier shows the way in goals scored for Tampa Bay with 29. Two of those have come against Washington this season.
Netminder Karri Ramo has played some of his best hockey of the season of late, building a 2.38 goals against average over the last four games.
The Washington Capitals (44-22-6) have been on overdrive all season and are currently ensconced in third place in the Eastern Conference, just two points out of the second spot and five away from the top.
The Capitals score often and from everywhere, lead by forward Alex Ovechkin who enters the game looking for goal number 50, the best in the NHL. Ovechkin has three goals and six points against the Lightning this season. Add in Alexander Semin with 29 goals, Mike Green, who leads all defensemen in the NHL with 21 goals and 61 points, and it’s easy to understand why the Capitals own the league’s number two power play at 24.6%.
And it’s a power play that will not have to face Cory Murphy, probably Tampa Bay’s most consistent defenseman of late. Murphy sustained a foot injury in Tuesday’s game and may miss up to three weeks of playing time.
Washington arrives in Tampa Bay fresh off a 3-0 shutout of the Florida Panthers Tuesday night, in which netminder Jose Theodore stopped all 19 shots he faced. Those shots all came in either the first or second periods, incidentally, since the Capitals held the Panthers without a shot on net in the final stanza.
Tonight’s game is the second in a four-game homestand for the Lightning, with Atlanta and Columbus still on deck. But no looking ahead – tonight, for the Lightning, the plate is full.