The Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals haven't seen each other in more than three months, a long gap between games for divisional rivals. They'll finally meet when the Bolts come to the Verizon Center for one of five games on Friday's NHL schedule.
The Caps and Lightning finished one-two in the Southeast Division last season, but both struggled through the first half of 2011-12. Washington's 1-0 win against Pittsburgh on Wednesday moved the Caps back into the top eight in the East, while the Lightning come to the nation's capital with a five-game losing streak after dropping a 5-2 decision to Carolina at home on Thursday.
The NHL Network will air the game in the United States, beginning at 7 p.m. ET.
Also at 7, Todd Richards will make his home debut as coach of the Blue Jackets when Columbus hosts Phoenix. Richards lost his first game after taking over from Scott Arniel when the Jackets lost 5-2 at Chicago on Tuesday. The Coyotes come to Nationwide Arena after a 3-2 shootout loss at Detroit on Thursday.
Two more games begin at 7:30 ET, Pittsburgh tries to end a six-game losing streak when it visits Florida, where the Panthers have been off since beating Vancouver 2-1 on Monday. Also, Toronto goes for a home-and-home sweep of the Sabres with a visit to First Niagara Center in a game that can be seen in Canada on TSN. The Leafs won 2-0 at home on Tuesday.
In the final game of the night, Anaheim continues its road trip in Edmonton. Both teams are coming off overtime losses -- Anaheim was beaten 1-0 in Calgary on Thursday, while the Oilers lost 2-1 at home to New Jersey on Wednesday.