On The Road Again: Washington Capitals vs Tampa Bay Lightning

Washington Capitals (23-5-5) vs Tampa Bay Lightning (16-11-3)

  Predicted Goaltender Record GAA / SV% / # SO
Washington Capitals Ilya Samsonov 7-2-1 2.42 / .917 / 0
Tampa Bay Lightning Andrei Vasilevskiy 12-8-1 2.82 / .910 / 0

After a brief two-game home stand, the Washington Capitals will hit the road and head to Tampa Bay for the first contest of a week long, three-game road trip. Washington defeated the Lightning 4-3 back on November 29th, and the Caps are hoping to repeat that success. Expectations were high for the most recent Presidents’ Trophy winners, but this season, Tampa Bay has struggled to string together consecutive wins.

For the 16th time in 17 meetings, the Washington Capitals defeated the Boston Bruins, as they took down Brad Marchand’s scrappy squad, 3-2. David Pastrnak scored his 26th goal of the season at the 9:36 mark of the first period, giving Boston an early 1-0 lead. It didn’t take long though for the Capitals to regain the momentum they needed to win this game that weirdly enough, featured a very strong playoff feel. Shortly after Pastrnaks’ goal, Zdeno Chara and Tom Wilson squared up, all combined 13 feet of them. Tom Wilson would ultimately receive an additional two minutes for cross-checking, but Washingtons’ penalty kill kept the Bruins from improving their lead. Boston would be given a second consecutive man-advantage as Jakub Vrana went off for tripping but was unsuccessful. The Capitals penalty kill has improved to an impressive 2nd best overall, with the Caps killing off 85.3% of penalties taken (TheScore, Washington Capitals). The Capitals would not convert on the first 34 seconds of their first power play, or the remainder of that man advantage to start the second. Washington was called for ‘too many men on the ice’ early in the second, but again Boston would fail to convert. Chris Wagner went off for interference at the 3:48 mark, and it wouldn’t take long for the Capitals to tie the game. Washington has established themselves as ‘second-half, comeback kids’ and this game was no exception. With his 12th goal of the season, TJ Oshie tied the game at one goal a piece at the 4:35 mark of the second period, on the power play. Less than four minutes later, Oshie would then give the Capitals their first lead of the game with his 2nd goal of the game. Russian center Evgeny Kuznetsov was credited with the primary assist on Oshie’s second goal. Impressively, and mostly due to Backstrom’s previous absence, Kuznetsov is playing at just about a point-per-game, with 31 points in 30 games. Washington would receive another power play at the end of the period, but they would not score. Tom Wilson would go off for interference just 19 seconds into the third, and then John Carlson would go off for tripping just about six minutes later. The Bruins would receive their fifth ultimately unproductive attempt at special teams success at the 10:13 mark of the final frame as Garnet Hathaway and Brett Ritchie were called for roughing. Sean Kuraly would score his 3rd of the season before the period was three minutes old, tying the game. ‘Johnny Norris’ Carlson scored his 12th of the season, the eventual game-winning-goal, less than two minutes after Kuraly’s goal. Carlson leads the Capitals in goals and assists with 45 and 33, respectively. Braden Holtby ended the night with a .928 save percentage, after making 30 saves on 32 shots. Ilya Samsonov is slated to get the the start.

The Tampa Bay Lightning last played on Thursday, as they also took down the Boston Bruins 3-2, handing them their 5th consecutive loss. The game wasn’t even 30 seconds old before Zdeno Chara  (yes, again) and Patrick Maroon squared up and received five minutes each for fighting. Patrice Bergeron got the Bruins on the board first, just four minutes and 26 seconds into the first period. Tampa received their first power play of the game at the 12:44 mark of the first, and although the Bruins killed off that penalty, Boston would find themselves incapable of killing off Tampa’s two additional opportunities with the man-advantage. The Bruins received their first power play opportunity just as the second period was two minutes old, but again, would not convert. Against the Washington Capitals, in the first game of their back-to-back, Boston was unable to convert on any of the five power plays they received (TheScore, BOS @ WSH). Matt Grzelcyk and Kevin Shattenkirk would receive matching penalties at the 4:48 mark of the second period, but neither the Lightning nor the Bruins would score. The Bolts’ 2nd ranked power play converted on back-to-back power play goals from Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point. Stamkos tallied his 12th goal of the season at the 12:35 mark of the second period, as John Moore went off for tripping just six seconds prior. Sean Kuraly (yes, again) went off for hooking at the 2:43 mark of the third period, and Brayden Point would score his 11th goal of the season, and 4th power play goal, giving the Bolts a 2-1 lead. Steven Stamkos was called for hooking as well at the 10:28 mark, and Tampa would kill off that penalty. The Bolts’ penalty kill ranks 18th of 31, as they are killing off 79.4% of penalties taken (TheScore, Tampa Bay Lightning). Ten minutes later, Steven Stamkos would then score his 2nd goal of the game, and 13th of the season, a goal that would be the ultimate game-winner. John Moore would bring the Bruins within one with his very first goal of the season, but Tampa would emerge victorious. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 27 saves on 29 shots, ending his night with a .931 save percentage. At Amalie Arena, the veteran goaltender is 6-4-0, with a GAA of 3.05 (HockeyReference). The Bolts have managed to win two or more consecutive games just three times this season and have maxed out at three wins in a row. Andrei Vasilevskiy is expected to start against the Capitals.

The Tampa Bay Lightning will be without Braydon Coburn (DL, lower body), and Tyler Johnson (OUT, lower body). The Capitals will play just their third game with a full and completely healthy roster.

Coverage of the game begins at 6:00pm with Caps Faceoff Live, followed by Caps Pregame Live at 6:30pm, all on NBCSN/NBCSWA, with puck drop shortly after 7:00pm.

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HockeyReference. (2019). Andrei Vasilevskiy 2019-20 Splits. Retrieved from https://www.hockey-reference.com/players/v/vasilan02/splits/2020.

TheScore. (2019). Boston Bruins at Washington Capitals. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/events/22210.

TheScore. (2019). Tampa Bay Lightning News & Stats. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/teams/14.

TheScore. (2019). Washington Capitals News & Stats. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/teams/15.

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