Washington Capitals (17-4-5) vs Tampa Bay Lightning (12-8-2)
|Predicted Goaltender||Record||GAA / SV% / # SO|
|Washington Capitals||Braden Holtby||12-2-4||2.86 / .909 / 0|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||Andrei Vasilevskiy||9-7-0||2.90 / .908 / 0|
Tonight, the Washington Capitals will face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning on the first night of a back-to-back. Puck-drop comes just after 5:00pm, so we will see if the Capitals can carve out a post-Turkey Day win. The most recent Presidents’ Trophy winner Tampa Bay Lightning have seriously struggled this season. Although they have fared well in November thus far, the Lightning are sitting at 20th in the league. The last time these two teams met, back on March 30th, the Capitals defeated Tampa Bay 6-3. All-time, at home, Washington is 44-24-4, but has defeated the Lightning just twice in their last 6 meetings (mcubed).
On Wednesday, the Washington Capitals defeated the Florida Panthers in 4-3 victory for just the 3rd time in nine meetings. Although Florida’s special teams are among the best in the league, the Capitals matched their style of play too well to allow the Panthers to dominate for too long. The Panthers received the first power play of the game at the 5:03 mark as Radko Gudas was called for holding. Although the Capitals successfully killed off the penalty, John Carlson was then called for delay of game as soon as the first penalty expired. Washington has killed off 17 of the last 22 penalties taken. Alex Ovechkin started off the scoring just short of the 18-minute mark of the first period, marking his 16th of the season.
The Capitals received their first power play at the start of the second period, as Jonathan Huberdeau was called for tripping. The Capitals did not convert, and just beyond the halfway mark of the match, none other than Brett Connolly would score his 12th of the season, tying the game at 1-1. Moments before, a touching tribute video highlighting some of Conno’s most iconic moments with the Capitals was shown, so it was pretty rude for Brett to score immediately after.
Evgeny Kuznetsov was called for interference two minutes later, but the Panthers did not convert. With 60 seconds remaining in the period Richard Panik scored his 2nd of the season, an absolute snipe, and his 2nd in four games, giving the Capitals a 2-1 lead.
Just 22 seconds later, Mike Hoffman would tie it all up. Heading into the third period, the Caps and Cats were tied at 2-2. Five minutes and 18 seconds into the final frame, Lars Eller scored his 6th, re-instating the Caps’ one-goal lead. With Jakub Vrana’s primary assist, the left winger tallied his 100th NHL point.
Seven minutes later, Brendan Leipsic would score the eventual game-winner, as he opened up Cats’ goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, and snuck the puck five-hole.
At the 12:36 mark of the final frame, Aleksander Barkov was called for hooking, and Evgeny Kuznetsov at the same time was called for “roughing”. Therefore, the two teams would play 4-on-4 for two minutes, and lucky for Washington, the Panthers would not score. Vincent Trocheck, with less than five minutes remaining, scored his 4th of the year, bringing Florida, again, within one. However, Keith Yandle would be called for interference at the 19:11 mark, and though the Capitals did not convert on the power play, the man-advantage gave them the drive to close this one out with a win. Somehow, with just 20 shots on goal through 60 minutes, the Capitals were able to take down the Panthers. Florida’s 40 shots, and Braden Holtby’s 37 saves bolstered his numbers tonight, as the veteran goaltender rounded out the night with a .925 save percentage. Braden Holtby is expected to start for Washington.
The Tampa Bay Lightning also played on Thursday, where they narrowly lost to the St. Louis Blues. Although Tampa boasts the 3rd best power play (31.4% efficiency), and leads the league in goal scoring, with an average of 3.73 goals for, the reigning Cup champions fed off adversity to snag their 15th win of the season (TheScore, Tampa Bay Lightning). No scoring took place in the first period, nor were any power plays awarded. Nikita Kucherov scored first, giving Tampa an early 1-0 lead just before the game was four minutes old. The Lightning would receive the first power play of the game as Zach Sanford went off for slashing at the 4:24 mark. Much to the dismay of the locals, Oskar Sundqvist of the Blues scored a short-handed goal, tying the game at one goal each. The Bolts’ power play would expire without a Tampa goal. Three minutes later, Sundqvist scored his 8th of the season, and 2nd of the night, before eventually leaving the game with a lower-body injury. At the 11:39 mark, Lightning center Anthony Cirelli managed to tie the game 2-2 heading into the third period. Alex Pietrangelo went off for slashing with four and a half minutes left in the second, but the Bolts did not convert on their man-advantage. Just 20 seconds into the third period, David Perron of the Blues was called for tripping, but again, Tampa would not convert. Zach Sanford gave the Blues their lead back as he scored his 3rd of the season. Alex Killorn of Tampa was called for slashing at the 9:02 mark and 16 seconds later Yanni Gourde would go off for tripping, giving the Blues a two-man advantage. Just before the Blues’ power play expired, Brayden Schenn would give St. Louis a two-goal lead. Tampa’s power play finally converted as Robert Thomas went off for slashing at the 13:12 mark of the final frame, and Brayden Point scored his 8th of the season. Although Tampa’s offense is among the best in the league, their defensive stats are among the worst. The Bolts allow on average 3.27 goals against, and with them killing off just 80.3% of penalties taken, an average of 11 penalty minutes per game may not bode well for Tampa (TheScore, Tampa Bay Lightning). As expected, Nikita Kucherov leads the team with 24 points, but it is defenseman Victor Hedman that leads with 16 goals. Tampa has just three players without a goal, but every player on their roster has tallied at least one assist. Andrei Vasilevskiy, despite making 29 saves on 33 shots, would drop his 3rd game in five starts. However, the Russian net-minder is expected to start for Tampa Bay.
The Tampa Bay Lightning will be without Steven Stamkos (OUT, lower body) and Erik Cernak who is currently serving a two-game suspension for elbowing Sabres’ defensemen Rasmus Dahlin. As a result of the injury, Dahlin will be out for an undetermined amount of time. Garnet Hathaway will play his first game after serving a three-game suspension for spitting. Nicklas Backstrom will miss his fourth straight game. Carl Hagelin is not yet eligible to return.
Coverage of the game begins at 4:00pm with Caps Faceoff Live, followed by Caps Pregame Live at 4:30pm, all on NBCSN/NBCSWA, with puck drop shortly after 5:00pm.
Support our friend’s Kickstarter campaign for Star Con today!
Mcubed. (2019). NHL : Series records: Washington Capitals against Tampa Bay Lightning. Retrieved from http://mcubed.net/nhl/wsh/tb.shtml.
TheScore. (2019). Tampa Bay Lightning News & Stats. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/teams/14.
TheScore. (2019). St. Louis Blues at Tampa Bay Lightning. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/events/22106.