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Capitals-Lightning Preview @NHLdotcom

GAME: Washington Capitals (22-38-8) at Tampa Bay Lightning (36-28-5).

TIME: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. EST.

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender John Grahame hopes a meeting with the slumping Washington Capitals will help him get out of his recent funk.

The Lighting have won five straight home games over the Capitals, outscoring them 17-5 in those games, while Washington has lost seven straight games overall.

Tampa Bay is in sixth place in the Eastern Conference with 77 points - one more than the New Jersey Devils - and is coming off a 6-5 overtime loss Monday to the Florida Panthers.

The Lightning trailed 5-1 after two periods before tying it with two goals by Martin St. Louis and one each by Ryan Craig and Brad Richards to force overtime.

"You get a couple of bad bounces, they go in, and the next thing you know it's a 5-1 game," St. Louis said. "At that point, there's nothing to lose. You just have to go out and play and see what happens. It happened."

Grahame stopped 20-of-25 shots against the Panthers before being replace by Gerald Coleman at the start of the third period.

Coleman was called up last Thursday as an emergency backup for Grahame with goalie Sean Burke sidelined with a fractured right index finger. Grahame should be back in net against the Capitals.

Grahame has struggled since the Olympic break, going 3-3 with a 4.85 goals-against average and .832 save percentage in those games, but he has played well against Washington this season.

The U.S. Olympic goalie is 2-1 against the Capitals with a 1.63 GAA and a 5-0 shutout on Feb. 4.

St. Louis has three goals in his last two games, while Craig has three goals and three assists in his last three.

Richards has two goals and four assists in his last three games and had two goals in his last meeting with the Capitals on Feb. 4.

Washington lost to the Panthers 3-2 on Wednesday, its seventh consecutive loss to Florida this season.

"It's not the Panthers that tire you, it's the losing during the whole season," Washington coach Glen Hanlon said. "You have to guard against becoming morally down."

The Capitals have lost eight of their last 10 games and have the second-fewest points in the Eastern Conference with 52.

Star rookie Alexander Ovechkin has three goals and three assists against Tampa Bay, but has been limited to two goals during the seven-game losing streak.

Goalie Olaf Kolzig is just 2-6-3 with a 4.21 GAA and .871 save percentage since Feb. 7, but has a 20-9-1 record and 2.36 GAA lifetime against the Lightning.

Washington has lost eight of its last nine road games, and the Capitals' seven road wins this season are an NHL low.

STANDINGS: Capitals - 52 points, 5th place, 46 PB, Southeast Division. Lightning - 77 points, 2nd place, 21 PB, Southeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Capitals - Ovechkin, 44 goals, 42 assists and 86 points; Chris Clark, 92 PIM. Lightning - Vincent Lecavalier, 32 goals; Richards, 52 assists and 73 points; Pavel Kubina, 86 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Capitals - Power play: 14.3 percent (59 for 413), 29th in NHL. Penalty killing: 78.3 percent (365 for 466), 29th. Lightning - Power play: 15.8 percent (65 for 412), 24th. Penalty killing: 82.0 percent (274 for 334), 18th.

GOALTENDERS: Capitals - Kolzig (17-26-8, 0 SO, 3.56 GAA); Brent Johnson (5-10-0, 0, 4.02). Lightning - Grahame (25-18-1, 5, 3.01); Coleman (0-0-1, 0, 2.77).


LAST MEETING: Feb. 4; Lightning 5-0. At Tampa, Fla., Grahame made 29 saves for his third shutout in his past four games, and Richards scored two goals to lead the Lightning.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Capitals - 7-20-2 on the road; Lightning - 18-12-2 at home.

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