The Lightning are 2-15-1 in their previous 18 games against the Southeast Division-leading Washington Capitals, but they are hoping their current momentum carries over into Friday’s meeting at the Verizon Center.
Tampa Bay (13-7-2) defeated the New York Rangers 5-3 on Wednesday night, recording five consecutive victories for the first time since Nov. 7-16, 2007.
Stamkos, who has 18 points in his previous 10 games, scored a goal and recorded two assists as the Lightning took a 5-0 lead into the third period.
They coasted in the third period, allowing three goals, leading to some mixed feelings in the locker room.
“It’s a win, five in a row, and we take pride in that,” Stamkos said. “We definitely don’t feel as good as we would have after our play in the third.”
Mike Smith(notes), who made 17 saves to improve to 8-3-0 this season, is 0-5-0 with a 4.72 goals-against average versus Washington. Teammate Dan Ellis(notes) hasn’t fared much better, going 0-2-3 with a 3.39 GAA.
Stamkos leads the NHL with 21 goals and has eight against the Capitals over the previous 10 meetings.
The Lightning will look to get off to another quick start in this one, as they are 9-2-0 when scoring first.
Ovechkin, who has an NHL-best 279 goals since the 2005-06 season - 45 more than No. 2 on the list, has gone without one in five straight games for the second time this season.
He has 13 goals and 15 assists in his previous 14 games against the Lightning, though, and will look to extend his seven-game points streak against the franchise.
The Capitals (15-6-2) defeated Tampa Bay 6-3 on Nov. 11, but coach Bruce Boudreau knows that a lot has changed since then.
“We’re playing arguably right now the best team in the league, the hottest team anyway,” he said. “We know we have our hands full, we know they’re a really good team. Hopefully we’re ready for them.”
Neuvirth is 8-1-1 at home and 2-0-0 versus the Lightning in his career despite a 3.43 GAA.
“I skated the last three days with our strength coach and I think I’ll be ready to play tomorrow,” Knuble said Thursday.
Knuble has three goals and an assist in his previous four games against Tampa Bay.
Gagne has 34 points in 34 games lifetime versus Washington.