Sunday, 04.01.2012 / 9:47 PM
The Southeast Division rivals face off for the sixth and final time this season. The home team has emerged with a victory in each of the first five meetings, with three of those wins belonging to Washington. Tampa Bay now looks to even up the six-game season set at three games apiece after earning a pair of wins on Jan. 31 and Feb. 18.
The Big Story:
The Lightning enter Monday night’s contest looking to build off an overtime win against Winnipeg in its last outing and perform one final show in front of the home crowd as they wrap up the home portion of the regular season schedule. Washington, meanwhile, seeks to extend its current win streak to three games, but more importantly, hopes to earn a victory in order to gain some separation on Buffalo in the standings, as the Sabres sit just two points behind the Capitals for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay concludes the home portion of the regular season schedule before departing for a three-game road trip that will conclude the 2011-12 campaign. The Lightning rebounded on Saturday night to snap a two-game skid, earning a 3-2 overtime victory over the division-rival Jets. Steven Stamkos
notched his league-best 56th goal of the season, but what was perhaps more impressive was the Lightning forward’s timing of it all. Stamkos’ goal 45 seconds into overtime was his fifth game-winning goal in the extra period this season, good for an NHL single-season record. Ryan Malone
continued his torrid goal-scoring pace as well, lighting the lamp twice, to support a 26-save effort by Sebastien Caron
who made his first NHL start since Nov. 10, 2006.
CAPITALS – Washington visits Tampa Bay for the final time this season before splitting its final two games of the regular campaign with one each at home and on the road. The Capitals won their second straight game Saturday night, defeating Montreal 3-2 in a shootout to keep pace ahead of Buffalo in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Mathieu Perrault and Jay Beagle put Washington out to a 2-0 lead in the first period, but soon surrendered the advantage, as it allowed the game-tying goal to Tomas Plekanec late in the second period. The teams then went scoreless in the final period to force overtime, which also went without a goal. Matt Hendricks and Alexander Semin then scored in the shootout, and Michal Neuvirth made 39 saves before stopping two additional shooters in the tiebreaker to earn the win.
Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos
leads the NHL with 56 goals and is closing in on the 60-goal mark with four games left. He has six goals in his past five games and is currently riding a five-game point streak. Ryan Malone
also has been scoring at a torrid pace, as he has five goals in his past two contests. For the Capitals, Alex Ovechkin has 10 points in his past eight games, while Alex Semin has points in five of his past six games with one goal and five assists over that stretch.
LIGHTNING - Mattias Ohlund
(knee, out for season, placed on Injured Reserve), Dana Tyrell
(knee, out for season, placed on Injured Reserve), Marc-Andre Bergeron
(upper body, out for season), Mathieu Garon
(torn groin muscle, out 3-4 weeks), Adam Hall
(upper body, day-to-day) and Ryan Shannon
(upper body, out for season).
CAPITALS – Tom Poti (groin) and Nicklas Backstrom (concussion).
“It's tough not to think about 60 goals. I get asked about it every day. That said, I'm not going to be pushing for it. I don't want guys to be passing up opportunities to try to get me that. If it's the right play, it's the right play.” – Steven Stamkos
, as told to The Tampa Bay Times, on the thought of recording 60 goals this season
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