Washington at Tampa Bay
When: 7:00 PM
ET, Saturday, December 3, 2016
Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida
Nothing is coming easy for the Washington Capitals and the Tampa Bay Lightning this season after coming in as two of the favorites in the Eastern Conference. The Capitals are struggling offensively after finishing second in the league in scoring last season as they prepare to pay a visit to the Lightning, who have dropped four in a row while giving up 19 goals in the process.
Washington stands fourth in the competitive Metropolitan Division, just two points up on sixth-place New Jersey, after managing only a pair of goals in two straight losses. Captain Alex Ovechkin owns five of his team-leading 12 tallies in the last seven games for the Capitals and hopes he can find the magic that has allowed him to post 40 goals and 81 points in 60 career games against Tampa Bay. The Lightning, who won their first two contests after captain Steven Stamkos was lost for four months with a knee injury, dropped five of six since after Thursday’s 5-4 loss at St. Louis - a game in which they showed some spark. “I thought it was a step forward,” Tampa Bay defenseman Anton Stralman told the Tampa Bay Times. “But you want the two points. That’s the bottom line.”
TV: 7 p.m. ET, CSN Mid-Atlantic (Washington), FSN Sun (Tampa Bay)
ABOUT THE CAPITALS (13-7-2): Washington’s top three scorers are on the same line with Nicklas Backstrom (20 points) centering Ovechkin (18) and Marcus Johansson (15) while only one other active player has double-digit points. Forward Jakub Vrana made his career debut in the 3-0 loss to the New York Islanders on Thursday, skating with the struggling Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky (10 points). The Capitals need more from veteran wing Justin Williams, who has four points on the season after posting 52 in 2015-16.
ABOUT THE LIGHTNING (13-11-1): The newly constructed line of Cedric Paquette centering Joel Vermin and Jonathan Drouin was Tampa Bay’s best on Thursday, registering six points combined. Nikita Kucherov had a goal and an assist against St. Louis to push his team-leading total to 28 points and after Stamkos’ 20 in 19 games, defenseman Victor Hedman is next with 18. Defenseman Jason Garrison played only one shift in the third period Thursday after blocking a shot in the second session and his status is uncertain for Saturday.
1. The Capitals won five straight against Tampa Bay, recording 20 goals and allowing 11 in the streak.
2. Washington G Braden Holtby is 7-2-1 in his career against the Lightning and Tampa Bay G Ben Bishop is 1-6-1 versus the Capitals.
3. The Lightning allowed five power-play goals in the last four games - three against St. Louis on Thursday.
PREDICTION: Capitals 3, Lightning 2
Stats and Records