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Vokoun back in net for Caps vs. Lightning

by Ben Raby
WASHINGTON -- Tomas Vokoun will make his eighth straight start tonight as the Capitals continue their four-game homestand against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Caps have won five straight at Verizon Center and own the second-best home record in the Eastern Conference at 15-5-1.

Nicklas Backstrom will miss his fourth straight game after taking an elbow to the head from then-Calgary Flame Rene Bourque Jan. 3.

Mike Green also will miss his third straight game after aggravating his previously injured groin last Saturday in San Jose. Green has missed 25 of the past 27 games and was placed on long-term injured reserve yesterday. He is not eligible to return until Feb.1 at the earliest.

With Green placed on LTIR, forward prospect Cody Eakin was recalled from AHL Hershey and will be in the lineup tonight. Eakin has 3 goals and 6 points in 20 NHL games this season.

Defenseman Tomas Kundratek also is expected back in Washington's lineup after making his NHL debut in Wednesday's 1-0 win against Pittsburgh.

The Capitals and Lightning haven't played since Washington's 6-5 shootout win Oct. 10; they'll meet five times in the second half of the season.

The top two teams in the Southeast Division a year ago enter play Friday fighting for a playoff position. The Caps begin the day tied eighth in the Eastern Conference, eight points clear of the 13th-place Lightning.

The Lightning still are seeking their first win of 2012, having gone 0-4-1 since a 5-2 win against Carolina on New Year's Eve.

Steven Stamkos remains the NHL's goal-scoring leader, with 29 in 42 games, but the Bolts have allowed a league-worst 3.40 goals per game.

Here is the lineup for both teams; the Capitals had a morning skate, while the Lightning, after playing Carolina last night, opted against skating today. Tampa dressed 11 forwards and seven defensemen last night, so their forward lines lacked real consistency.

Alex Ovechkin - Marcus Johansson - Alexander Semin
Mike Knuble - Brooks Laich - Troy Brouwer
Matt Hendricks - Jeff Halpern - Joel Ward
Jason Chimera - Cody Eakin - Jay Beagle

Karl Alzner - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Dennis Wideman
Roman Hamrlik - Tomas Kundratek

Tomas Vokoun will make his eighth straight start in net, with Michal Neuvirth the backup.

Forward Mathieu Perreault and defensemen John Erskine and Jeff Schultz will be scratched.

Tom Pyatt - Vincent Lecavalier - Steve Downie
Martin St. Louis - Steven Stamkos - Brett Connolly
Ryan Malone - Dominic Moore - Teddy Purcell
Dana Tyrell - Nate Thompson   

Marc-Andre Bergeron - Matt Gilroy
Brett Clark - Bruno Gervais
Eric Brewer - Pavel Kubina
Brendan Mikkelson

With Mathieu Garon starting last night, it's likely he'll back-up Dwayne Roloson tonight.
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