Series (Game 6 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

Capitals 3

(48-14-10, 106 pts)

Lightning 1

(28-31-12, 68 pts)

7:30 PM ET, March 20, 2010

Tampa Bay Times Forum, Tampa, Florida

1 2 3 T
WSH 2 0 13
TB 1 0 01

J. Theodore (Capitals - G): Saves: 33, Save Pct.: .971

A. Ovechkin (Capitals - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

V. Lecavalier (Lightning - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Capitals-Lightning Preview


The sputtering Tampa Bay Lightning likely wished Alex Ovechkin's suspension was three games instead of two.

The two-time reigning Hart Trophy winner gets back on the ice Saturday night, looking to help the Washington Capitals re-establish their dominance of the Lightning when the Southeast Division rivals conclude their season series.

Ovechkin returns for the finale of a four-game road trip after serving a two-game suspension for a hit on Chicago's Brian Campbell in Sunday's 4-3 overtime win.

Washington (47-14-10) was impressive in its first game without its captain Tuesday, beating Florida 7-3, but followed that with a 4-3 overtime loss at Carolina two nights later.

"I think sometimes we take some chances we don't need to take, we're so offensive minded that we forget we need to play a bit of defense," Eric Fehr said after scoring for the third straight game Thursday. "We got a lot of skilled players here, there's no doubt about that. So hopefully we can get that figured out."

The Capitals are 7-2-1 without Ovechkin this season, averaging 4.7 goals, but surely will be happy to welcome back the league's points leader (96).

Ovechkin could be in for a big return against Tampa Bay (28-30-12), which has dropped 10 of 12 while giving up an average of 4.2 goals. However, one of those victories came at Washington, 3-2 last Friday despite Ovechkin's two assists.

The left wing has 23 goals and 49 points in 35 games versus the Lightning for his second-best output against any opponent. He has nine points in five meetings this season.

Washington has won 14 of 16 against Tampa Bay, with Ovechkin totaling 11 goals and 13 assists in the past 12.

While Ovechkin was out, seven Capitals scored goals and eight others had at least a point, led by Nicklas Backstrom, Brooks Laich and Brendan Morrison with four apiece. Plus, Washington ran its streak of consecutive games with a power-play goal to seven, going 10 for 27 in that span.

Backstrom has three goals and four assists in the last three games after being held without a point by the Lightning last week.

The Capitals already have secured the Southeast title, and are comfortably leading the race for the Presidents' Trophy and home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs.

The Lightning, meanwhile, could end up being Washington's first-round opponent if they can make the postseason -- they're six points back of eighth-place Boston.

Tampa Bay, held to four goals in three games since beating the Capitals, is trying to avoid going winless on a four-game homestand after falling 6-2 to Buffalo on Thursday.

"It's hard, but there are still 12 games and 24 points to be grabbed and I'm not giving up," right wing Martin St. Louis told the team's official Web site. "I don't think anybody is giving up. No one is going to feel sorry for us and we've got to fight until the end, and I believe we will."

St. Louis and Steve Stamkos are tied for the team lead with 82 points but have failed to score a goal in five and four straight games, respectively.

Stamkos has scored seven times in eight games against Washington. He had two goals and set up another by St. Louis in a 7-4 win in the last meeting at St. Pete Times Forum on Jan. 12.