Game Preview: Caps Host Lightning Before the Christmas Break


After a tough shootout loss to the Flyers, the Capitals will return to Verizon Center eyeing a win on their Christmas list as they host the Tampa Bay Lightning. Puck drop is at 7:00 p.m. and you can catch the game on CSN. 

The Lightning have had a rough season so far. First their star Steven Stamkos suffered a lateral meniscus tear that will sideline him for four-to-six months. Ryan Callahan, Nikita Kucherov, and Ben Bishop each have lower body injuries while Ondrej Palat’s injury is undisclosed.

Friday’s game in Washington will be the Bolts’ second of a back-to-back. The previous night on home ice saw the Lightning trailing to the Blues 2-0 after the opening period before exploding for five unanswered goals. Brian Boyle and Michael Bournival lit the lamp in the middle frame to tie it at 2. In the third, Alex Killorn gave the Bolts the lead and Jonathan Drouin scored twice to put the game away.

The Lightning are fourth in the Atlantic Division with 37 points, sporting a 17-14-3 mark. They are five points behind the Caps for the second and final Wild Card spot.

Special Teams:
Despite the injury bug taking a bite out of their lineup, the Lightning have the third best man-advantage in the league with a 23.8% conversion rate. Their PK needs improvement as they sit 23rd in the NHL with a success rate of 79.3%.

The Capitals are coming off a a 3-2 road shootout loss to the Flyers. Despite not getting the needed two points against their Metropolitan Division foes, there were two players that each broke out of their own personal slumps with goals. The first one came from Andre Burakovsky, who hadn’t lit the lamp since the season opener at Pittsburgh in which he scored twice. It was his first game back after being sidelined as a healthy scratch for three games. The second came from Lars Eller, who hasn’t scored a goal since Nov. 5 against the Panthers.

The Capitals look to deliver a gift under the tree for the fans with a win for their #CapsHolidayParty and they need one with the competitiveness of the Metro Division race heating up. Right now Washington sits fifth in the Metropolitan Division with 42 points, just five points behind the Penguins and Rangers for first place. Their record is 19-8-4. The Caps occupy the second Wild Card spot, just two points behind the Flyers.

Special Teams:
The Capitals scored a power play goal for five straight games… up until Wednesday night where they went 0-for-1 in their lone power play. On the penalty killing side, they stopped both Flyers man-advantages.

The Caps are 13th in the power play with a 19.4% conversion rate. They are seventh in the NHL in penalty kills with a 84.3 success rate.

Other Notes:
During practice Thursday, Brett Connolly was on the fourth line in place of Daniel Winnik.

Friday night marks the second of three meetings between the Capitals and Lightning. The Lightning won the first meeting 2-1 in a shootout on Dec. 3 in Tampa. Washington is 75-31-6-8 all-time and 41-11-4-4 at home against Tampa Bay. Both of these teams used to be Southeast Division rivals before there was a conference realignment.

A Christmas miracle: Dec. 18, 2015


  • Alex Ovechkin has earned 81 points (40 goals and 41 assists) in 61 career games against the Lightning, marking the second-most points he has against an NHL franchise.


Game Notes vs. Tampa Bay, 12/23/16 (Capitals PR)
Caps Come Back Home to Host Bolts (Mike Vogel)

By Michael Marzzacco

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