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Lightning-Capitals Preview @NHL
Lightning-Capitals Preview

GAME: Tampa Bay Lightning (8-9-2) at Washington Capitals (6-11-0).

TIME: Tuesday, 7 p.m. EST.

The Tampa Bay Lightning have only one win in their last seven games, but they also have one of the NHL's hottest players in Vinny Prospal.

After his best game of the season helped Tampa Bay snap a six-game losing streak, Prospal leads the Lightning as they face the Washington Capitals for the third time this season.

Prospal recorded his second career hat trick and added an assist Monday in the Lightning's 5-2 victory over visiting Philadelphia. He extended his points streak to 10 games, picking up eight goals and 10 assists during that span, and has at least one point in 15 of his last 16 games.

With right wing Martin St. Louis, the 2003-04 NHL MVP, sidelined two to four weeks with a broken bone near the tip of his left ring finger, Tampa Bay needs Prospal to help pick up the slack.

"For the team, it's great that we were able to play a game like this," said Prospal, who is among the league's top 10 with 27 points. "For me personally, it's great to get a hat trick. It feels a lot better when we win the game."

The Lightning had been outscored 10-4 in their previous two games and the six-game skid was their longest since they dropped six straight from March 24-April 3, 2002.

"It's a win, it's two points, but more important is how we did it," Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella said. "It's not what you do last year, it's what you do right now. That's what I think we re-established for tonight's game."

Washington has dropped three straight, the last two coming against New Jersey in a home-and-home series, to give the Capitals an Eastern Conference-high 11 regulation losses. Following a 4-3 loss at home on Friday, the Capitals were defeated 3-2 at New Jersey on Saturday.

The Caps have allowed 73 goals, second-worst in the league to Pittsburgh (81).

Already one of the league's most inexperienced teams, the last thing Washington needs is for No. 1 goaltender Olaf Kolzig to miss any significant time.

Kolzig has missed the last two games with a groin strain, forcing the team to use recently recalled Frederic Cassivi on Friday and backup Brent Johnson on Saturday. Before getting hurt, Kolzig was second in the NHL in shots faced with 446, trailing only Florida's Roberto Luongo.

One bright spot for the young Capitals has been rookie Alexander Ovechkin, who is fifth in the NHL and leads all rookies with 13 goals.

STANDINGS (through Nov. 14): Lightning - 18 points, 2nd place, 7 PB, Southeast Division. Capitals - 12 points, 5th place, 13 PB, Southeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Lightning - Prospal, 13 goals and 27 points; Brad Richards and Prospal, 14 assists; Pavel Kubina, 34 PIM. Capitals - Ovechkin, 13 goals and 18 points; Steve Eminger, 9 assists; Chris Clark, 36 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Nov. 14): Lightning - Power play: 13.7 percent (17 for 124), 25th in NHL. Penalty killing: 83.3 percent (85 for 102), 11th. Capitals - Power play: 11.4 percent (11 for 96), 29th. Penalty killing: 77.3 percent (106 for 137), 28th.

GOALTENDERS: Lightning - John Grahame (6-8-1, 1 SO, 2.96 GAA); Sean Burke (2-0-1, 1.56). Capitals - Kolzig (6-7-0, 3.78); Johnson (0-3-0, 5.37).


LAST MEETING: Oct. 28; Lightning, 4-2. At Tampa, Fla., Vincent Lecavalier scored a tiebreaking, power-play goal with 5:07 left to lift the Lightning.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Lightning - 4-5-1 on the road; Capitals - 5-4-0 at home.

Associated Press
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