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Lightning at Capitals preview

Kucherov two points from 500 for Tampa Bay; Washington is 9-2-0 in past 11 games

by Harvey Valentine / Independent Correspondent

LIGHTNING (17-12-4) at CAPITALS (25-6-5)



The Game

The Washington Capitals will go for their 10th win in 12 games when they play the Tampa Bay Lightning at Capital One Arena on Saturday.

Washington is 9-2-0 in its past 11 games and 18-4-2 in its past 24 after a 6-3 road win at the New Jersey Devils on Friday.

Tampa Bay is 3-1-1 in its past five games after going 2-4-1 in its previous seven. The Lightning, after leading 3-1, lost 4-3 to the Dallas Stars in overtime on Thursday.

The Capitals and Lightning conclude their season series; Washington won 4-3 in overtime at Capital One Arena on Nov. 29 and 5-2 in Tampa Bay on Dec. 14. 


Players to watch 

Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov has 18 points (nine goals, nine assists) in a 12-game point streak against Washington and needs one goal for 200 in the NHL, one assist for 300 and two points for 500.

Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom had four points (two goals, two assists) on Friday and has 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in his past 12 games.


They said it

"We have a good system in place and when we play it, things go well for us. We're getting some tough bounces against us, but I thought the last couple games we've controlled a lot of the play and skated well." -- Lightning forward Brayden Point

"[We] were able to get the two points against a hard-working [New Jersey] team that is young and competitive. Now we get back, get some sleep and get ready for a fresh Tampa squad that's probably not that happy right now. So, we've got to make sure that we're ready." -- Capitals coach Todd Reirden


Lightning projected lineup  

Ondrej Palat -- Brayden Point -- Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn -- Anthony Cirelli -- Steven Stamkos

Pat Maroon -- Cedric Paquette -- Yanni Gourde

Carter Verhaeghe -- Tyler Johnson -- Mitchell Stephens

Victor Hedman -- Jan Rutta

Ryan McDonagh -- Erik Cernak

Mikhail Sergachev -- Kevin Shattenkirk

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Luke Schenn

Injured: Braydon Coburn (lower body)


Capitals projected lineup

Alex Ovechkin -- Nicklas Backstrom -- Tom Wilson

Jakub Vrana -- Evgeny Kuznetsov -- T.J. Oshie

Carl Hagelin -- Lars Eller -- Richard Panik

Brendan Leipsic -- Nic Dowd -- Garnet Hathaway

Michal Kempny -- John Carlson

Dmitry Orlov -- Nick Jensen

Jonas Siegenthaler -- Radko Gudas

Braden Holtby

Ilya Samsonov

Scratched: Travis Boyd

Injured: None


Status report

Neither team held a morning skate. … Holtby returns in goal after Samsonov started Friday against New Jersey.


Stat pack

Tampa Bay is 0-3-1 in its past four games against Metropolitan Division teams. Killorn has scored four goals in his past five games against the Capitals. … The Capitals are 4-0-1 in the second game of back to backs. Ovechkin needs one power-play goal to pass Teemu Selanne (255) for third place on the NHL all-time list. Ovechkin has 91 points (48 goals, 43 assists) in 71 games against the Lightning, tied for the most points he has earned against an NHL franchise (Atlanta/Winnipeg and Carolina).

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