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Monday, December 7th (All times eastern)

Washington Capitals (18-5-6) at Tampa Bay Lightning (11-9-8), 7:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Washington Capitals have survived not having Alex Ovechkin in the lineup over the past week. With the superstar forward set to return to action, the Southeast Division leaders take aim at a sixth consecutive victory when they head to St. Pete Times Forum for tonight's clash with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Ovechkin has sat out the Caps' last two outings after being suspended by the NHL office for a knee-to-knee hit on Carolina defenseman Tim Gleason in a 3-2 win over the Hurricanes last Monday. The two-time Hart Trophy winner did injure himself on the play and had to leave that game, but he's expected to be good to go for tonight.

The Capitals' offense clearly didn't suffer without its best player, as the club racked up 14 goals and scored seven times on the power play in back-to- back wins over Florida and Philadelphia.

Washington recorded a season-high in goals in Saturday's 8-2 road rout of the Flyers, with Mike Green scoring twice and adding two assists and Niklas Backstrom registering a five-point night.

Backstrom finished with a goal and four assists and Tomas Fleischmann lit the lamp twice for the red-hot Capitals, who converted 4-of-6 power-play chances for the game.

Eric Fehr had two assists for Washington and has now amassed nine points (4 goals, 5 assists) during a six-game point streak. Ovechkin has notched a point in five straight tests, having produced three goals and three helpers over that span.

Saturday's win was the third in a row on the road for the Capitals and improved the club to an impressive 9-3-3 as the visitor this season. Washington also leads the Eastern Conference with 42 points at the moment.

The Capitals have owned the Lightning in recent years as well. Washington has won the last 11 matchups in this series, with six of those wins having come in Tampa.

The Lightning will be trying to build off Saturday's home triumph over the New York Islanders, in which goaltender Mike Smith turned aside all 30 shots he faced to lead Tampa to a 4-0 decision.

Smith had plenty of offensive help en route to his first shutout of 2009-10. Ryan Malone, Steve Downie, Jeff Halpern and Victor Hedman all had goals on the evening, while Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis and Andrej Meszaros each delivered two assists to help the Lightning stop a four-game slide.

"I've been working really hard lately and it was nice to get this," said Smith. "More importantly, it was a big win for the team, because we need all the points we can get."

Tampa Bay will be playing the second tilt of a three-game homestand and owns a 7-2-4 record at the Forum this season.

12/07 10:52:03 ET


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