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Lightning (25-13-5, 55 Points) vs. Capitals (24-12-7, 55 Points)
Last 10: Tampa Bay (6-3-1); Washington (6-1-3)
Season Series: This is the fourth of six matchups on the season between the two clubs and the first of three to be played at the St. Pete Times Forum. Tampa Bay gathered its first win of the year against the Capitals last week with an emotional 1-0 shutout that vaulted the Lightning into sole possession of first place. Washington took the first two matchups in its home arena on Nov. 11 and Nov. 26.
The Big Story: The Southeast Division is up for grabs tonight as both teams come in knotted at the top with 55 points apiece. Tampa Bay has won six of the last seven at home and look to take back sole possession of first place after Washington joined them last night following a 4-3 overtime loss to the Panthers.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay hosts Washington in the first of a two-game home stand before traveling to Carolina for the second half of a back-to-back set on Saturday. The Lightning look to bounce back following a 6-3 loss to New Jersey on Sunday, which concluded a four-game road swing in which it split a pair of wins and losses. The team practiced yesterday and received some good news regarding Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis, as they were both selected to represent the Lightning in Raleigh at the 2011 NHL All-Star Game.
CAPITALS – Washington wraps up a brief two-game road trip tonight and will skate in the latter half of a back-to-back set this evening after playing last night in Sunrise against the Panthers. Marcus Johansson scored twice and Mike Knuble had a goal, but the Capitals surrendered three opposing goals with the man advantage and went scoreless on five power-play opportunities throughout the night.
Who’s Hot: The Lightning’s Adam Hall comes in riding a three-game point streak with a pair of goals and an assist, while Martin St. Louis has three points in his last four games and Ryan Malone has landed on the score sheet in two straight. Washington’s Alex Ovechkin and Mike Green each come in with three points in their last two games, while Mike Knuble and Nicklas Backstrom have tallied a pair of points in as many games.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING – Mike Smith (minor knee injury, day-to-day) and Sean Bergenheim (illness, day-to-day). CAPITALS – Alexander Semin (lower body, day-to-day), Matt Bradley (broken finger) and Boyd Gordon (toe).
Notable Quotable: “You have to say they have as good a chance as anybody of winning the East. Once they get past that, who knows? So, yeah, they have a legitimate shot at it.” - Scotty Morrison, an analyst for CBC's Hockey Night in Canada on whether he thinks the Lightning are a Stanley Cup contender
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