LIGHTNING (23-11-5) at CAPITALS (23-12-5)
TV -- RDS, SUN (HD), CSN-DC (HD)
Last 10 -- Tampa Bay 8-1-1; Washington 5-3-2
Season series -- This is the third of six meetings this season between the top two teams in the Southeast Division. The Capitals have taken the first two games -- both at the Verizon Center -- by a combined score of 12-3.
Big Story -- The Lightning's red-hot play, combined with the Capitals' December swoon, allowed Tampa Bay to pull ahead of the Capitals. But the real test for Tampa will be actually beating the Caps, something they've done just four times in their past 18 meetings.
Lightning -- It almost seemed like Tampa Bay was winning in spite of its goaltending, rather than because of it, which is what inspired the team to acquire goaltender Dwayne Roloson from the New York Islanders on New Year's Day.
Roloson's record is just 6-13-1, but his 2.64 goals-against average and .916 save percentage with the 14th-place Islanders is impressive. It also clogs the Lightning net, with holdovers Mike Smith and Dan Ellis, but GM Steve Yzerman wasn't worried about that when he made the deal.
"We bring Dwayne in with the idea that it's going to improve our goaltending. That's the whole reason the deal is done, and we'll figure out what we do from here," Yzerman told the Tampa Tribune. "We'll carry three (goaltenders) and Guy (Boucher, coach) will decide who plays.
"Obviously acquiring Dwayne, he's going to play games. Ultimately the best one is going to play, and that will work itself out."
Capitals -- This is Game 1 A.C. -- After Classic. Now that the Winter Classic is in the past and the HBO cameras have gone home, the Caps need to keep one thing with them from the recent past -- winning games.
The Caps have won three straight and five of their last six, but they've done it with little goal-scoring help from captain Alex Ovechkin. Ovechkin had a goal waved off on New Year's Day, and he's got just 2 goals in his last 11 games.
Who's Hot -- Lightning forward Steven Stamkos has 5 goals and 9 points in his last five games, and after going six games without a goal between Thanksgiving and the first week of December, he has 10 goals in his last 11 games. … Capitals defenseman Mike Green has a point in four straight games, his second-longest streak of the season.
Injury Report -- Lightning forward Steve Downie could return for this one. He hasn't played since Dec. 2 due to an ankle injury. Also possible is defenseman Randy Jones (upper-body injury). Goalie Mike Smith is on injured reserve with a knee injury. … For the Capitals, forwards D.J. King (undisclosed), Matt Bradley (finger) and Boyd Gordon (lower-body injury) and defenseman Tom Poti (head) are on injured reserve.
Stat Pack -- With just 14 goals in 40 games, Ovechkin is on pace for 29; his previous career-low was 46 in his second season.
Puck Drop -- Getting traded never is easy, but for Roloson, going to Tampa is the perfect destination. Not just for him, however.
"My oldest son, Brett (10), is a big Marty St. Louis fan," Roloson told the St. Petersburg Times. "I think he was even more excited than I was."