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Lightning at Capitals preview

Stamkos expected to return for Tampa Bay; Hathaway back in Washington lineup

by Harvey Valentine / Independent Correspondent

LIGHTNING (12-8-2) at CAPITALS (17-4-5)



The Game

Steven Stamkos is expected to return to the lineup when the Tampa Bay Lightning play the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena on Friday.

The Lightning forward has missed the past three games because of a lower-body injury.

Tampa Bay is 6-3-0 in its past nine games after its three-game winning streak ended with a 4-3 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday.

Washington got goals from all four lines in ending two-game winless streak (0-1-1) with a 4-3 win against the Florida Panthers on Wednesday. The Capitals are 14-2-3 in their past 19 games, outscoring opponents 70-52.

Capitals forward Garnet Hathaway returns after serving a three-game suspension for a spitting incident involving Anaheim Ducks defenseman Erik Gudbranson on Nov. 18.


Players to watch 

Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov has 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in his past eight games.

Capitals forward Evgeny Kuznetsov has 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in his past 11 games.


They said it

"When you play a team in the playoffs as recently as we did (2018) and especially a seven-game [Eastern Conference Final] series which many of [the Capitals] say was their catalyst going to the Stanley Cup, there's rivalries. … The other thing is our core and their core have been around a while, so when you're competing at the top of the standings every year those rivalries can build." -- Lightning coach Jon Cooper

"When you have third and fourth lines contributing and all lines playing well it just makes it tougher on the other team. Momentum-wise you have line coming after line and it can be overwhelming. That's something we've always kind of focused on, setting the next line up for success." -- Capitals forward Tom Wilson on Washington's depth


Lightning projected lineup  

Ondrej Palat -- Brayden Point -- Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn -- Steven Stamkos -- Anthony Cirelli

Pat Maroon -- Cedric Paquette -- Yanni Gourde

Tyler Johnson -- Mathieu Joseph

Victor Hedman -- Kevin Shattenkirk

Ryan McDonagh -- Mikhail Sergachev

Braydon Coburn -- Luke Schenn

Jan Rutta

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Carter Verhaeghe

Suspended: Erik Cernak


Capitals projected lineup

Alex Ovechkin -- Evgeny Kuznetsov -- Tom Wilson

Jakub Vrana -- Lars Eller -- T.J. Oshie

Richard Panik -- Chandler Stephenson -- Travis Boyd

Brendan Leipsic -- Nic Dowd -- Garnet Hathaway

Michal Kempny -- John Carlson

Dmitry Orlov -- Nick Jensen

Jonas Siegenthaler -- Radko Gudas

Braden Holtby

Ilya Samsonov

Scratched: Christian Djoos, Beck Malenstyn

Injured: Nicklas Backstrom (upper body), Carl Hagelin (upper body)


Status report

Cernak will miss the second of two games after being suspended for a hit on Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin in a 5-2 win on Monday. … The Capitals did not hold a morning skate. Backstrom participated in practice on Thursday wearing a non-contact jersey and will miss his fourth game. 


Stat pack

Cirelli has nine points (five goals, four assists) in a six-game point streak. Point has scored four goals over the past four games and has points in three of the past four games (four goals, one assist).  … Ovechkin needs one power-play goal to tie Teemu Selanne (255) for 3rd place on the NHL all-time list.

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