(SportsNetwork.com) – The Washington Capitals will try to return to the win
column when they welcome a former division rival to Verizon Center in
Saturday’s clash with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Caps and Lightning battled for years in the now defunct Southeast Division
before the NHL’s realignment plan instituted prior to last season ended the
divisional rivalry. Washington is now a member of the Metropolitan Division
while the Bolts joined the Atlantic.
Saturday’s test is the third and final scheduled meeting between the clubs
this season. Tampa claimed the first encounter on Nov. 1, notching a 4-3
regulation win on home ice, but Washington answered with Tuesday’s 5-3 triumph
in Central Florida. Alex Ovechkin scored twice for the Caps in the meeting
earlier this week, and now has 37 goals and 37 assists over 56 career games
against the Lightning.
Washington has won six of eight in this series overall. The Bolts snapped a
six-game slide in D.C. with a 1-0 shootout win on April 13 of last season, but
the Capitals are 17-2-2 in their last 21 home games against Tampa.
The Caps had matched a season-high winning streak with three straight
victories before losing an overtime decision Thursday against visiting
Columbus. Nick Foligno scored a power-play goal with 18.8 seconds left in the
OT to lift the Blue Jackets to the 3-2 win.
Jason Chimera was whistled for interference in the extra session, putting the
Blue Jackets on the man advantage at the 3:03 mark of OT. After Sergei
Bobrovsky made two huge short-handed saves, Jack Johnson dished to Foligno for
a one-timer from the right circle. The puck sailed over Braden Holtby’s glove
for the win.
Holtby stopped 20-of-23 shots and was outplayed by Bobrovsky, who needed to
make 39 saves for the win.
“We created chances. We had a lot of traffic in front of them and (Bobrovsky)
was still able to make saves,” said Capitals defenseman Mike Green, who
returned to the lineup after missing seven games with an upper-body injury.
Justin Peters could get the call in net tonight. He is 0-3-1 with a 4.20
goals against average in his career against Tampa. Holtby is 4-2-1 with a 3.41
GAA in this matchup.
Tampa halted a two-game slide its last time out by beating the visiting
Carolina Hurricanes in dramatic fashion. Nikita Kucherov’s marker with 30.3
seconds left in regulation broke a tie and delivered a 2-1 victory for the
Kucherov’s second goal of the contest was a fluke deflection. He appeared to
attempt a pass from the left circle, but the puck instead changed direction
off the skate of Hurricanes defenseman Ron Hainsey in the slot and slid over
the goal line.
Evgeni Nabokov turned away 29 pucks and picked up his first assist of the
season for the Lightning. The win pushed the backup goaltender’s record this
season to 3-3-1.
“It was nice to see him get rewarded,” Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said
of Nabokov. “He played great and gave us a chance to win.”
Ben Bishop expects to be back in net tonight. He is 1-3-1 with a lifetime 4.13
GAA against Washington.
Ondrej Palat, who was a late scratch from Thursday’s game against Carolina, is
questionable for tonight’s game due to a lower-body injury. The forward has
eight goals and 11 assists this season.