Series (Game 5 of 6)

Washington leads 4-2

Game 1: Monday, December 7th
Game 2: Tuesday, January 12th
Game 3: Sunday, January 31st
Game 4: Thursday, March 4th
Game 5: Friday, March 12th
Game 6: Saturday, March 20th

Lightning 3

(28-27-12, 68 pts)

Capitals 2

(45-14-9, 99 pts)

7:00 PM ET, March 12, 2010

Verizon Center, Washington, District of Columbia

1 2 3 T
TB 1 2 03
WSH 1 0 12

M. Walker (Lightning - D): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

A. Niittymaki (Lightning - G): Saves: 28, Save Pct.: .933

T. Fleischmann (Capitals - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Lightning-Capitals Preview


Enjoying more success than any team in the league, the Washington Capitals certainly can't blame their players for wanting to be on the ice as much as possible.

Coach Bruce Boudreau will likely continue to juggle his lineup as the league-leading Capitals try to continue their dominance at home Friday night against Tampa Bay Lightning.

With 99 points and a 14-point lead in the Eastern Conference, Washington (45-13-9) has enough leeway to rest some of its regulars while trying to break in new players. That plan, though, isn't necessarily sitting well with those who are missing time.

On Monday night, Tomas Fleischmann was left off the lineup for the first time all season as the Capitals lost 4-3 in a shootout with Dallas, snapping a franchise-record 13-game home winning streak. Two days later, he scored in overtime as Washington bounced back at home with a 4-3 victory over Carolina.

"It's a little message," the Czech said. "Don't sit me out again."

Fleischmann was smiling when he mode those comments, but it highlights the tough position Boudreau is in on a team overloaded with talent. Jason Chimera and Eric Fehr, who had not been rested since Jan. 2, took their turns sitting out versus the Hurricanes.

Boudreau is trying to work in new players Joe Corvo, Scott Walker and Eric Belanger. On March 3, Corvo and Walker were acquired from Carolina and Belanger was picked up in a deal with Minnesota.

Belanger assisted on Fleischmann game winner.

"He's a good player," Boudreau said of Fleischmann. "And if the circumstances weren't what they are, he wouldn't be sitting out. But still ... the playoffs don't start until about April 18. ... I don't like doing it, either, but as long as we can, we'll keep rotating guys in and out of the lineup to keep them fresh and sharp. The players don't like it, but they understand it. They know what the common goal is, so they're doing it for the common goal."

Despite the lineup shuffling, Washington has managed to earn at least a point in 15 straight games at Verizon Center. The Capitals have scored 31 goals in winning seven straight home games against the Lightning (27-27-12), and have won 14 of the last 15 meetings overall.

Tampa Bay, trying to make a late playoff push, has lost seven of its last eight (1-6-1). The Lightning fell six points behind eighth-place Boston in the East following a 4-3 OT loss at Toronto on Thursday night.

"We play hard, but hard's not good enough right now," Lightning right wing Martin St. Louis said. "For us it's about results right now and we just can't seem to find that."

Steven Stamkos' outstanding run hasn't been able to get Tampa Bay out of its rut. Stamkos extended his franchise-record point streak to 18 games (17 goals, 15 assists) with his 42nd goal of the season.

The 20-year-old center is within two goals of Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby and Washington's Alex Ovechkin, who are tied for the league lead. Stamkos has four goals and two assists in his last three games versus the Capitals.

St. Louis has two goals and six assists in his last three games against Washington. Despite Stamkos' streak, St. Louis still leads Tampa Bay with 81 points (24 goals, 57 assists).