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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, March 31st (All times eastern)

Washington Capitals (26-38-14) at Tampa Bay Lightning (42-32-4), 7:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Tampa Bay Lightning get another shot at improving their postseason chances tonight, when they host the lowly Washington Capitals at St. Pete Times Forum.

The Lightning posted an important win in Carolina on Friday to move into sixth place in the Eastern Conference standings. The Bolts have 88 points on the year and are just one point ahead of the New York Rangers heading into Saturday's action. Tampa Bay is also still within three points of Atlanta for the Southeast Division lead.

On Friday, Vincent Lecavalier scored his league-leading 50th goal of the season and added a pair off assists, as Tampa Bay downed the Hurricanes, 4-2, at RBC Center.

With time winding down in the game and the Lightning holding a one-goal lead, Lecavalier stormed into the zone along the left wing, spun to his backhand and then released a shot that caromed off a defenseman's stick before slipping past Cam Ward. The standout center's previous high in a season was 35 goals, set last year.

Martin St. Louis scored his 42nd marker of the season and Johan Holmqvist made 26 saves for the Lightning. St. Louis has 99 points on the year and can join Lecavalier as the only players in club history to reach the 100-point mark in a season. Lecavalier became the first this year and currently has 103 points.

The Lightning, who are 20-17-1 at home this season, begin a three-game stand at the Forum tonight. They will also face Carolina and Florida during the residency.

The Capitals are ahead of only Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference and have lost their last five contests.

Washington was in action on Friday evening and dropped a 3-2 decision to the Panthers. Martin Gelinas scored a pair of goals, including the game-winner in overtime, to lead Florida.

Jakub Klepis and Chris Clark scored for the Capitals, who have dropped four in a row but still picked up their first point since a 7-1 win against Tampa Bay on March 18.

Brent Johnson ended with 32 saves for the Capitals, who have also dropped eight in a row on the road (0-6-2). Washington is just 10-22-7 as the visiting team this year.

Tampa Bay is 5-2 against the Capitals this season and has taken eight of the last 12 meetings dating back to last season. Washington has also dropped two in a row and seven of its last nine tilts at the Forum.

03/31 11:00:36 ET


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