After stumbling on a homestand, the Tampa Bay Lightning now face a long trek away from home as they try to stay in first place in the Southeast Division.
The Lightning look to bounce back when they visit the Washington Capitals in the opener of a season-high six-game road trip.
Following games against division opponents Washington and Florida, Tampa Bay (36-25-4) faces all three Western Canadian teams before closing out the trip at Toronto on March 13.
“We’re going to have to take it one game at a time,” Lightning center Brad Richards told the team’s official Web site. “This Washington game is going to be very important. We can’t look too far ahead; we can’t look at where we’re going out West. We’ve got two games within our division and we’ve got to get the points and then we’ll worry about the long part of the road trip.”
The Lightning lost 2-1 in overtime to Dallas on Tuesday, closing out a 1-1-1 homestand. Tampa Bay had only 20 shots and Vincent Lecavalier failed to record a point, ending an eight-game streak in which he had seven goals and seven assists.
“We never had the puck all night long,” Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella said. “We’re very fortunate to get a point. They were a better hockey team.”
The Lightning have gone 17-4-2 since Jan. 7 to take a two-point lead over Atlanta in the Southeast. Tampa Bay has won nine of its last 11 on the road and earned points in 10 of those games.
To help solidify their squad, the Lightning made two deals before Tuesday’s trading deadline, acquiring left wing Karl Stewart from Chicago for Nikita Alexeev and getting right wing Jason Ward from Los Angeles for a draft pick.
The Capitals, who are mired in last place in the division with 59 points and with little chance to make the playoffs, made several deals before the deadline, acquiring four picks in the first two rounds of this year’s draft.
Washington (24-29-11) sent center Dainius Zubrus to Buffalo and defenseman Jamie Heward to Los Angeles on Tuesday, and on Monday, dealt winger Richard Zednik to the New York Islanders and defenseman Lawrence Nycholat to Ottawa.
Zubrus, who becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1, was the Capitals’ third-leading scorer with 52 points, and the team got back center Jiri Novotny and a first-round draft pick.
“We were going to make sure that if we were trading a player like Zubrus … We were going to get value,” Capitals general manager George McPhee said. “There were some other deals that we could have done. But Buffalo swooped in, and it was a deal we couldn’t refuse.”
After all those departures, Washington lost 6-5 in a shootout to Florida on Tuesday night, despite rallying from a 3-0 first-period deficit. Alexander Ovechkin had two goals and two assists for the Capitals, who have lost seven of eight.
“I still think we have a great team,” Ovechkin said. “It doesn’t matter who we lost or who comes here.”
Ovechkin has three goals in his past two games after scoring just once in his previous 10 contests. He’s recorded a point in 11 of 13 career games against Tampa Bay.
The Lightning have won four of five meetings with the Capitals this season, including both games in Washington.