CAPITALS (4-8-1) at LIGHTNING (6-5-1)
TV: NHLN-US, CSN-DC, SUN
Last 10: Washington 4-5-1; Tampa Bay 4-5-1
Season series: This is the second meeting. Tampa Bay won the season opener 6-3 in Washington. The Lightning have won six straight at home against Washington, dating back to the final two contests of a four-game sweep in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Big story: Both teams rallied late in the third period Tuesday night to earn a point, but the Capitals were able to steal the second one as well. Now they’re on a bit of a roll while the Lightning are trying to break a slump that has followed a sizzling start.
Capitals: Washington has won back-to-back games, and could be a win or two away from officially being back in the playoff race. Both wins came against the struggling Florida Panthers though, and the Capitals still don’t have a win against a team in the top eight in the Eastern Conference.
They looked much better in a 5-0 beating of the Panthers at Verizon Center than they did in a 6-5 overtime win Tuesday in Sunrise, Fla. Washington needed goals from Eric Fehr and Alex Ovechkin late in the third period to force overtime, then Nicklas Backstrom hit Troy Brouwer with a perfect pass before he scored the winner.
"Obviously we'll take the two points," Fehr told the Capitals' official website. "But we've got to find a way to keep pucks out of our net and just be a little bit stronger in our own zone.”
Lightning: Tampa Bay looked like it might run away with the Southeast Division after a 6-1 start and scoring 37 goals in the seven contests, but the offense has slipped and the losses have mounted. The Lightning did grab a point in a 4-3 shootout loss Tuesday against Montreal, but that is five straight defeats (0-4-1) and only nine goals in those contests.
This is the second game of a four-out-of-five stretch at home for the Lightning, who need to get the momentum going in the other direction before they face a seven-game run that includes road games at Pittsburgh (twice), Boston, New Jersey and the New York Rangers.
Who's hot: Ovechkin has goals in three straight games and points in five straight. After a slow start, he’s up to five tallies and 10 points in 13 contests. Tampa Bay’s offense has sputtered, but Martin St. Louis still has four points in the five losses and is tied for the team lead with Steven Stamkos at 17.
Injury report: The Capitals are still without Brooks Laich (groin) but he has been cleared for contact in practice. Jack Hillen (upper body) and Dmitry Orlov (upper body) are still out. Tampa Bay will be without Ryan Malone (lower body).
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