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Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

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GAME: Washington Capitals (20-34-8-2) at Tampa Bay Lightning (34-17-7-5).

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

Even with Robert Lang, the Washington Capitals would have a hard time keeping up with the rival Tampa Bay Lightning - the entire Eastern Conference has of late.

A day after dealing their top scorer, the Capitals hope to keep up with the explosive Lightning when they visit the St. Pete Times Forum.

The Capitals continued to shed their high-priced stars Friday as Lang, who shares the league lead in points, was sent to the Detroit Red Wings for Tomas Fleischmann, a first-round draft pick this year and a fourth rounder in 2006.

The 33-year-old Lang is enjoying one of his finest seasons. He has 29 goals and 45 assists and is tied with Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis with 74 points.

Lang is the third marquee player traded this season by the Capitals, who are next to last in the East. Washington traded five-time Art Ross trophy winner Jaromir Jagr in January, and the franchise's all-time leading scorer, Peter Bondra, last week.

In their first game without Lang, the Capitals beat Roberto Luongo and the Florida Panthers 4-1 on Friday. Brian Willsie scored the first of four third-period goals for the Capitals.

The Lightning are 13-1-1-4 in their last 19 games, including Thursday's 4-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Brad Richards scored two goals and added an assist for the Lightning, who snapped a 10-game winless streak (0-9-1) against the Maple Leafs, and moved within three points of Philadelphia for the best record in the conference. Toronto has 80 points and Ottawa 82.

"It's really a confidence builder," St. Louis said.

STANDINGS: Capitals - 50 points, 5th place, 30 PB, Southeast Division. Lightning - 80 points, 1st place, Southeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Capitals - Anson Carter, 14 goals, Sergei Gonchar, 42 assists and 49 points; Jason Doig, 103 PIM. Lightning - St. Louis, 30 goals, 44 assists and 74 points; Chris Dingman, 124 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Feb. 26): Capitals - Power play: 19.5 percent (52 for 265), 5th in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.8 percent (247 for 302), 24th. Lightning - Power play: 16.9 percent (46 for 272), 10th. Penalty killing: 84.4 percent (184 for 214), 14th.

GOALTENDERS: Capitals - Olaf Kolzig (16-29-7, 2 SO, 2.89 GAA); Sebastien Charpentier (0-2-0, 3.18). Lightning - Nikolai Khabibulin (19-15-6, 2, 2.40); John Grahame (15-7-1, 1, 1.86).

SEASON SERIES: Tied, 2-2.

LAST MEETING: Feb. 23; Lightning, 6-3. At Washington, Carter scored his first goal since his return to the Capitals and Maxime Ouellet made 38 saves.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Capitals - 10-18-3-1 on the road; Lightning - 17-7-4-2 at home.


Associated Press
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