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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, March 1st (All times eastern)

Tampa Bay Lightning (36-25-4) at Washington Capitals (24-29-11), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Tampa Bay Lightning will begin a key six-game road trip this evening, when they visit the struggling Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center.

The Lightning currently lead the Southeast Division by two points over the Atlanta Thrashers, but are now facing their longest trek of the season. The swing also includes stops in Florida, Edmonton, Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto.

The good news for Tampa Bay is that it has won nine of its last 11 on the road and owns an 18-11-3 record as the visiting club this year.

The Lightning were in action in Tampa on Tuesday night and dropped a 2-1 decision to the Stars. Ladislav Nagy scored the game-winner 1:35 into overtime to give Dallas the dramatic victory.

Brad Richards had the lone Tampa goal and Johan Holmqvist made 26 saves for the Lightning, who have dropped two of their last three games.

The Lightning made some minor moves before Tuesday's trade deadline, picking up right wing Jason Ward from the Los Angeles Kings, right wing Karl Stewart from the Chicago Blackhawks and defenseman Joe Rullier from the Anaheim Ducks.

The Capitals were handed a 6-5 loss by the visiting Florida Panthers on Tuesday after Jozef Stumpel notched the game-winning goal in the shootout. Olli Jokinen also recorded his third hat trick of the season for Florida.

Alex Ovechkin registered two goals and two assists for Washington, which has dropped seven of its last eight games (1-4-3). With 59 points, the Caps are well outside of the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

Brooks Laich, Brian Sutherby and Kris Beech each had goals for the Capitals in Tuesday's setback. Washington goaltender Brent Johnson allowed four goals on 15 shots in the first period and was pulled in favor of Frederic Cassivi, who stopped 17 shots in relief.

The Capitals dumped a significant amount of salary in the final days before the trade deadline. The biggest deal came Tuesday, when Washington sent forward Dainius Zubrus to Buffalo in exchange for center Jiri Novotny and a first-round selection in the 2007 Entry Draft. Zubrus was scheduled to be a free agent in the offseason.

Washington also dealt defenseman Jamie Heward to Los Angeles before Tuesday's deadline, after trading winger Richard Zednik to the New York Islanders and defenseman Lawrence Nycholat to Ottawa on Monday.

Washington is 14-13-6 as the host this year and is playing the third portion of a four-game homestand tonight. The Capitals will close the residency Saturday against the New York Islanders.

The Lightning have won four of the five matchups with Washington this season and seven of the last 10 meetings overall. Tampa Bay has also walked away as the victor in two straight and three of its last four trips to the nation's capital.

03/01 10:49:13 ET

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