Capitals, Lightning set for second meeting

Capitals, Lightning set for second meeting

As they prepare to play for the second time this season, the Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning have something in common.

They both beat the Boston Bruins 3-2 at home in their most recent outings.

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The Capitals slipped past Boston in Washington in the NHL's "Wednesday Night Hockey" early game this week, and the Lightning rallied to beat the Bruins on Thursday night.

Washington and Tampa Bay meet in Florida on Saturday in a 7 p.m. ET game.

The two losses extended Boston's winless streak to a season-worst five games, but Tampa Bay benefited from its second one-goal win this week and third victory in its last four contests.

Defense lifted the Lightning to a 2-1 road win over the Florida Panthers on Tuesday, and the difference Thursday was the play of their special teams.

The Lightning connected on two of their three power plays and killed off both of Boston's in the close win, which Tampa Bay had to earn as the Bruins pulled goaltender Tuukka Rask and played with an extra skater in the final two minutes.

Steven Stamkos added an even-strength goal and improved his team-best total to 13 tallies. Nikita Kucherov contributed two assists, and goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy used a 27-save performance to beat the Bruins for the seventh consecutive start, including playoff matches.

Stamkos said playing with new linemates Alex Killorn and Anthony Cirelli has been refreshing and allowed him to play in different areas.

"Those two guys are obviously having great years themselves, but we just read off each other," said Stamkos, who has six goals in his last four games. "Those guys can hound the puck and use their bodies to make plays. They're really aggressive on the forecheck.

"It lets me take in the play and just try to jump into some holes and get some shots."

In their most famous encounter in May of 2018, the Capitals beat the Lightning in seven games to win the Eastern Conference Final.

Washington rallied from a 3-2 best-of-seven series deficit to win Games 6 and 7 behind shutouts by goalie Braden Holtby, who stopped all 53 Lightning shots as the Capitals claimed the Prince of Wales Trophy.

The club then advanced to the Stanley Cup Final and won their first Cup in five games over the Vegas Golden Knights with current New York Islanders coach Barry Trotz behind the bench.

That Washington squad used a 49-26-7 mark to notch 105 points and win the Metropolitan Division.

The current Capitals continued their dominance over the Bruins on Wednesday. T.J. Oshie scored twice and John Carlson's fifth game-winning marker this season early in the third period paved the way.

Washington boosted its record in the last 17 meetings against Boston to 16-1-0.

Capitals coach Todd Reirden praised the commitment of Oshie to play a complete game.

"T.J. with some outstanding plays that ended up in goals, but probably my favorite play is when he backchecks on our power play and comes all the way flying back," Reirden said. "That's leadership, that's commitment, that's team."

The Capitals earned a 4-3 overtime win over Tampa Bay on Nov. 29 in Washington as defenseman Dmitry Orlov scored in the extra session. Washington also capitalized by going 2-for-2 on the power play.

--Field Level Media

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