NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Sunday, January 31st
(All times eastern)
Tampa Bay Lightning (22-20-11) at Washington Capitals (36-12-6), 3 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The only thing standing in the way of the Capitals matching
the longest winning streak in club history is the team that was the last to
Washington goes for a record-tying 10th win in a row this afternoon at Verizon
Center against a Tampa Bay Lightning club that will be trying to record back-
to-back wins over the Caps for the first time in over two years.
The Capitals have been unbeatable since a 7-4 loss at Tampa Bay on January 12.
A victory today and Washington will match the record 10-game run that it
posted from January 27-February 18, 1984.
It will have to do so today without defenseman Mike Green, who was given a
three-game suspension for an elbowing incident in Friday's 4-1 win over
Florida. Green has 40 assists and 52 points this year and also left that win
with a knee injury.
"It was more a charley horse than anything else," Capitals head coach Bruce
Boudreau said. "It was like knee-on-knee, but it was high...I'm just really
happy to see that it's not going to be long-term."
Mike Knuble and Nicklas Backstrom both had three points in the win over the
Panthers. Knuble had two goals, giving him 11 in his last 12 games, and an
assist, while Backstrom posted a goal and two helpers. Michal Neuvirth made 35
saves for the Capitals, who wrap a three-game homestand tonight having also
won eight straight at home.
Washington is outscoring its opponents 44-19 on this run and has also matched
the club record for most wins in one month with 10, first set in December of
The Capitals' win streak has pulled them within three points of San Jose for
the most in the NHL. Washington and its 78 points also lead second-place
Atlanta by 22 for the top spot in the Southeast Division.
Tampa Bay may have the answer to beating Washington. Its 7-4 home win on
January 12 snapped a 12-game series losing streak and was its first victory
over the Caps since November 16, 2007. The Lightning haven't won in DC since
six days earlier that year, marking the last time they posted consecutive wins
The Lightning, who have lost five straight and seven of their last eight at
Washington, got two goals out of Steven Stamkos in their recent win over the
Caps. Martin St. Louis donated a goal and two assists in that win.
St. Louis had the lone goal in Friday's 2-1 shootout setback to Anaheim, as
the Lightning failed to conclude a four-game homestand perfect. Stamkos got an
assist on St. Louis' goal for his 100th NHL point.
Antero Niittymaki made 31 saves in defeat and is 4-1-1 with a 1.72 goals-
against average over six straight starts.
"From the bench level I thought it was a hard-fought game," said Lightning
head coach Rick Tocchet. "I think most of the guys were working hard."
The Lighting are one of four teams that are just one point behind the
Canadiens and Thrashers for the final two playoff spots in the Eastern
Conference and have lost four of their last six on the road.
01/31 10:34:03 ET