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This is the third of six meetings on the year between the two Southeast Division rivals. Washington has won each of the first two matchups this season, with both victories coming at the Verizon Center. One was a shootout win back on Oct. 10, while the most recent meeting resulted in a one-goal game earlier this month on Jan. 13.
Tampa Bay comes in rested and ready after the All-Star Break. The Lightning have collected victories in each of their past four straight games and look to continue their longest streak of the season with an additional win versus the Capitals. Washington, meanwhile, looks to stay atop the Southeast Division despite missing three key players including Alex Ovechkin, who is currently serving a suspension, and both Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green, who are out due to injury.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay feels as if it is back in the playoff hunt after coming out of the All-Star Break with four consecutive wins. The Lightning were still within reach of the eighth and final playoff spot as the calendar year for 2011 ended, but the team began 2012 with seven straight losses to fall back to a last place tie in the East. Now, the resurgent Bolts find themselves just nine points out of the East’s final postseason spot and kick off a three-game home stand Tuesday, with each game coming against a Southeast opponent. That provides Tampa Bay with ample opportunity to gain ground on its divisional foes and jump significantly in the standings should they increase their current win streak with a victory in each of those contests.
CAPITALS – Washington visits Tampa Bay for the first time this season and kicks off a back-to-back set with the second half scheduled for Wednesday night in Sunrise against the Panthers. Perhaps missing three key players from the lineup including Alex Ovechkin, who is currently serving a suspension, as well as Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green, who are both out due to injury, has hampered the Capitals as of late. Washington sits atop the Southeast Division with 55 points, but has lost two of three and three of five overall. Washington could still very well make a run at the division title, but would have to start winning away from home. The Capitals come into Tuesday’s game against the Bolts with a record of 8-13-2 away from the Verizon Center, with seven of the team’s final 18 road games coming against clubs who are in the top eight of the league.
Vincent Lecavalier has recorded points in all but one game since the calendar flipped to 2012 and has 15 points in 11 games this month. Steven Stamkos, fresh off the All-Star Break, also has points in six of his past eight outings. For the Capitals, Mathieu Perreault has four goals and six points in his past four games.
LIGHTNING – Mattias Ohlund (knee, placed on Injured Reserve), Dana Tyrell (ACL, out for season), Marc-Andre Bergeron (upper body, day-to-day), Ryan Malone (upper body, day-to-day), JT Wyman (upper body, day-to-day) and Adam Hall (forearm, out 8 weeks).
CAPITALS – Alex Ovechkin (suspension), Nicklas Backstrom (concussion) and Mike Green (sports hernia).
“People say, well how have you won four games? It’s because we haven’t looked at four games. We look at one game and that certainly has made a huge difference for us.” – Lightning head coach Guy Boucher, on how his team has been successful lately
Capitals defenseman Roman Hamrlik was the very first draft selection taken by the Lightning in the 1992 NHL Draft, while center Jeff Halpern played with Tampa Bay from 2008-2010 before being traded to Los Angeles in exchange for Teddy Purcell.
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