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Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning @NHLdotcom
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GAME: Washington Capitals (22-44-9-2) at Tampa Bay Lightning (44-21-8-5).

TIME: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. EST.

The Tampa Bay Lightning continue their quest for the top spot in the Eastern Conference when they host the lowly Washington Capitals.

With just four games remaining, the Lightning have a three-point lead over the Philadelphia Flyers for the top seed in the East. They have 101 points, tying them with the Detroit Red Wings for the highest total in the NHL.

Brad Richards scored with 4:58 left to give the Eastern Conference-leading Lightning a 2-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Thursday.

"We are playing fun hockey," Tampa Bay defenseman Pavel Kubina said. "We want to continue playing in the playoffs like tonight. We're building our confidence."

Kubina put the Lightning up 1-0 at 8:32 of the second, getting his 17th goal of the season - a franchise record for a defenseman. Roman Hamrlik had 16 in 1995-96.

Lightning defenseman Darryl Sydor missed the game with an upper body injury, and his status for this game is uncertain. Nolan Pratt took Sydor's place in the starting lineup, recording an assist.

Washington lost 3-2 to the Atlanta Thrashers on Wednesday.

Matthew Yeats made his first NHL start, stopping 30 of 33 shots. Yeats, who made his NHL debut the previous night, got a chance when Washington decided to keep two more qualified goalies with its AHL affiliate, which is contending for a playoff spot.

Olaf Kolzig, the Capitals' No. 1 goalie, got the night off in the second of back-to-back games.

The Capitals lost two players during the game. Brendan Witt went out with a lower body injury, and Brad Norton was sidelined by a hand injury. Their status for this game is uncertain.

The Capitals are 1-1-9 in March.

STANDINGS: Capitals - 55 points, 5th place, 46 PB, Southeast Division. Lightning - 101 points, 1st place, Southeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Capitals - Jeff Halpern, 15 goals, 23 assists and 38 points; Brendan Witt, 117 PIM. Lightning - Martin St. Louis, 35 goals, 54 assists and 89 points; Chris Dingman, 138 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 25): Capitals - Power play: 19.5 percent (63 for 323), 6th in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.3 percent (70 for 374), 26th. Lightning - Power play: 16.7 percent (54 for 324), 13th. Penalty killing: 84.6 percent (41 for 266), 12th.

GOALTENDERS: Capitals - Kolzig (19-34-8, 2 SO, 2.89 GAA); Yeats (0-1-0, 0 SO, 2.28 GAA). Lightning - Nikolai Khabibuli (27-17-7, 3, 2.31); John Grahame (17-9-1, 1, 2.03).

SEASON SERIES: Lightning, 3-2.

LAST MEETING: Feb. 28; Lightning, 4-2. At Tampa, Fla., Cory Stillman scored the go-ahead goal with 3:29 left in the third period for the Lightning.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Capitals - 10-24-3-1 on the road; Lightning - 22-9-4-2 at home.

Associated Press
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