Preview: Tampa Bay vs Washington, Wednesday, March 20, 2019

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Preview: Tampa Bay vs Washington, Wednesday, March 20, 2019

thechampionrings
Capitals try to avenge recent loss to Lightning

It was just last weekend that the Washington Capitals(nhl championship rings) were outplayed in a road loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Though the task likely won't be any easier, the host Capitals quickly get a shot at payback Wednesday night, while trying to extend their season-high home winning streak to six games and keep the Presidents' Trophy-owning Lightning from claiming a sixth straight victory overall. On Saturday against Washington, Tampa Bay scored the first two goals and led 3-1 after a period. Three times the Capitals got within a goal, but three goals -- two empty-net -- in the final period by the Lightning produced a 6-3 victory. Though the Capitals felt Tampa Bay was the better club in a physical and chippy first meeting since the teams' 2018 Eastern Conference final duel, the atmosphere had a playoff-like feel.

"These are fun games to play in," Capitals defenseman John Carlson, who had a goal with an assist, told the team's official website. "This is a big-time hockey game, and it's fun to play in those. I look forward to more." Carlson gets another Wednesday. Then back at Tampa Bay on March 30, and perhaps in the playoffs, again. For the moment, it's Washington that has more riding on this matchup. The Capitals, who own a two-point lead over the second-place New York Islanders in the Metropolitan Division, return home after winning 4-1 at New Jersey on Tuesday to complete a 2-2-0 trip. Brett Connolly scored his 20th and added an assist for Washington, which now attempts to extend a 7-0-1 home stretch. Two shy of an eighth 50-goal season, Alex Ovechkin had two goals and three assists on the trip, but looks to avoid going without a point in three straight home contests for the first time in 2018-19. Ovechkin scored twice at Tampa Bay for the Capitals, who understand the challenge that awaits again.

"It's the team you want to beat, that's for sure," said Washington's Nicklas Backstrom, who recorded his 50th assist Tuesday. "It should be a good test, and we expect to play better than the last time." Tampa Bay clinched the first Presidents' Trophy in franchise history and home-ice throughout the playoffs with Monday's 4-1 win over Arizona. The 56-win Lightning, 19-2-2 since Feb. 1, have nine games left and a shot at the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings' record of 62 victories. However, Tampa Bay players aren't patting themselves on the back just yet. "At the end of the day, a great regular season will be remembered somewhat, but we want to be remembered for what happens in the playoffs," defenseman Ryan McDonagh told the Lightning's official website. "We've set ourselves up for a great opportunity here."

Steven Stamkos became Tampa Bay's(cheap championship rings) all-time goal leader with his 384th on Monday, but has gone without a point in his last three regular-season games versus Washington. Teammate Alex Killorn had a hat trick against the Capitals on Saturday, the only goals over his last 12 contests. Tampa Bay's Andrei Vasilevskiy made 31 saves against Washington and has a 1.98 goals-against average during a 14-1-0 span. Braden Holtby stopped 29 for the Capitals in that contest. Holtby owns a 2.24 goals-against average while going 3-0-1 in his last four at home. Connolly has three goals and three assists in the last three games.