NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
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
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
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