Washington’s Roman Hamrlik represented the Lightning in the 1996 NHL All-Star Game in Boston.
It’s the fourth of six total meetings between the Southeast Division rivals. The home team has emerged victorious in each, although Washington has taken two of the first three matchups. Each of the three contests thus far between the clubs has also been decided by just a single goal, including two that have gone past regulation.
The Big Story:
The Lightning and Capitals both find themselves on the outside looking in at the Eastern Conference playoff picture, but come into Saturday looking to build off wins. Washington’s victory on Friday night against the Panthers prohibited Florida from gaining any separation at the top of the division standings, affording the Lightning a prime opportunity to cut their current nine-point deficit in the Southeast to seven on Saturday with a win in regulation. If the Capitals emerge with a victory instead, however, they’ll earn a share of the division lead with the Panthers, thus making the Lightning’s quest all the more difficult.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay plays in the third contest of its four-game home stand, on which it has gone 1-1-0 thus far. After dropping the opening game of the set on Tuesday in a 4-0 loss to Ottawa, the Bolts rebounded in a big way Thursday night by exploding for six goals, tying a season-high, in a thrilling 6-5 overtime win against the Sharks. Martin St. Louis scored the game-winner with just 32 seconds to go in the extra period to cap a two-goal performance and Steven Stamkos also had a pair of goals in the contest, increasing his NHL goal-scoring lead to 39, while finishing the night with four points. Victor Hedman tied a single-game career-high with three assists. It was a wild back-and-forth high-scoring affair that saw seven lead changes, with neither team ever leading by more than one goal. The Lightning gave up 50 shots on goal, the most ever by a Bolts opponent in Tampa Bay, but Dwayne Roloson stood strong in net to stop all but five of them to get the win and help the Lightning snap a two-game losing skid.
CAPITALS – Washington competes in the second half of a back-to-back set after playing the first portion on Friday night in Sunrise against the division-leading Panthers. The Capitals found themselves down a goal heading into the final 20 minutes, but rallied around a pair of third-period goals from Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin to earn an important 2-1 victory, closing the gap at the top of the Southeast Division standings. A loss would have dropped the Capitals six points behind the first-place Panthers, but instead now trail Florida by two points in the division race and eighth-place Toronto by one in the conference.
Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis snapped two and three-game scoring droughts, respectively, by getting back on the score sheet in the team’s last game, while Teddy Purcell has collected points in five of his past six games with a goal and six assists in that span. Steve Downie also has recorded four goals in four games for the Lightning. For the Capitals, Alex Ovechkin has four goals and six points in his past five games. Alexander Semin has also collected three goals and six points in his past five outings as well for Washington.
LIGHTNING – Mattias Ohlund (knee, placed on Injured Reserve) and Dana Tyrell (ACL, out for the season, placed on Injured Reserve).
CAPITALS – Mike Green (groin), Nicklas Backstrom (concussion) and Tom Poti (groin).
“The word that comes to mind is character. Character, character, character. For us, it’s not about how many times we fall, it’s about what happens to us, how we react to it. We’re fighting.” – Lightning head coach Guy Boucher, on how his team responded to losing two straight with a 6-5 overtime win versus the Sharks on Thursday night
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.