NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Thursday, April 3rd
(All times eastern)
Tampa Bay Lightning (31-40-9) at Washington Capitals (41-31-8), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Washington Capitals were rooting for the Tampa Bay
Lightning on Wednesday, but will try to defeat them tonight as the Caps host a
Southeast Division test at the Verizon Center.
The Capitals tied Carolina for the Southeast Division lead by beating the
Hurricanes on Tuesday and Tampa Bay had a chance to keep it that way when it
visited Raleigh on Wednesday night.
However, the Hurricanes notched a 6-2 win over the Bolts and are once again
two points in front of Washington for the division lead. Still, the Capitals
have a chance to use their game in hand over Carolina this evening.
Washington could also move into the eighth seed in the playoff race tonight,
as it is just one point behind idle Philadelphia for the final postseason
berth in the East with two games left.
The Caps have won five straight and nine of their last 10 games and are coming
off what could possibly be their biggest win in years.
Washington hosted the Hurricanes on Tuesday in the final regular-season
meeting between the clubs this year. Alexander Ovechkin tied an NHL single-
season record for left wingers with his 63rd goal of the season, and the
Capitals tied Carolina for the Southeast Division with the 4-1 decision at the
Matt Cooke, Brooks Laich and Alexander Semin also tallied for the Caps on
Tuesday. Sergei Fedorov added a pair of assists, and Cristobal Huet made 21
saves to pick up the win.
Ovechkin tied Luc Robitaille, who scored 63 times with the Los Angeles Kings
The Russian superstar is also nearing his first Art Ross and Rocket Richard
trophies, which are awarded annually to the league's leader in points and
Ovechkin is currently leading the NHL in points (110) and goals. He comes into
tonight's action with four more points than Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin and
11 more goals than Ilya Kovalchuk of Atlanta.
The Capitals are closing out their season on a three-game homestand and are
playing the middle test of that residency tonight before closing their regular
season with Saturday's game against Florida.
Washington is 21-15-3 as the hosts this year and has won four straight and six
of its last eight at home.
The Capitals have also had success playing against Tampa this season, as
they've won five of the seven encounters between the clubs. Washington has
taken six of the last nine meetings overall and three of four at the Verizon
Chad LaRose registered his first career hat trick to lead the Hurricanes to
the blowout win over the Lightning.
Martin St. Louis had a goal and an assist for the Lightning, losers of two
straight and six of their last eight. Jeff Halpern also lit the lamp, while
Vincent Lecavalier assisted on both of Tampa Bay's goals. Mike Smith allowed
all six goals on 32 shots.
Tampa Bay is closing out its season on a three-game road trip and is playing
the middle portion of that swing tonight. The Lightning are just 11-22-6 as
the visiting team and has lost three straight and nine of their last 10 on the
04/03 10:41:59 ET