Capitals look to end homestand on high note vs. Lightning

Sitting outside of a playoff spot at Thanksgiving, you'd think the Tampa Bay Lightning would be severely disappointed with any loss, even one against the defending Stanley Cup champions.

As the Lightning hit the road to face the Washington Capitals on Friday, they're not about to let their 4-3 setback against the St. Louis Blues bring them down.

"It's a hard team over there to play against, and they capitalized on the few mistakes we made," Lightning defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said of Wednesday's loss that ended a three-game winning streak. "We've just got to keep our heads up because we've got some tough opponents coming up here."

The Lightning have won six of nine games to pull within striking distance of a playoff position. Wednesday's loss was a game that could have gone either way.

"We give up the shorty. Eventually, it ended up being the difference," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said of a second-period short-handed goal against that came when his team was leading. "I liked our game. It was a good hockey game, one of those, we're on the losing side of it so it's natural to sit here and say we should have gotten points out of it, but I was happy with a lot of things we did. We did everything in our game plan we wanted to accomplish. We just fell one short."

Tampa defenseman Erik Cernak will finish serving his two-game suspension, and captain Steven Stamkos could return to action after missing the last three games due to a lower-body injury.

The Capitals are looking to close out a three-game homestand on a positive note. Washington snapped a two-game losing skid with a 4-3 victory over the Florida Panthers on Wednesday, a game that featured a 37-save performance by Braden Holtby and offensive production throughout the lineup.

"We made a few mistakes, and they end up costing us at some tough times in the game," coach Todd Reirden said. "But we responded in the third, and that's what it's about. Mistakes are going to happen in the game, and it's how you respond to them. It was good to see (Lars) Eller's line convert there, and then obviously (Brendan) Leipsic's line as well."

Washington scored just two goals in the pair of losses, one in a shootout, before returning to the win column against the Panthers. Receiving offensive production from the third and fourth lines is necessary to win, even for a team that boasts the likes of Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Jakub Vrana and John Carlson.

"I think that was the first real chance we had on our line," Eller said. "We didn't play our best game today. For a couple of games, we haven't had the bounces and a little bit of puck luck, and maybe today we had that, especially when we needed it in the third."

While Washington will have Garnet Hathaway back in the lineup after serving a three-game suspension, the Capitals will again be without forward Nicklas Backstrom, who will miss a fourth straight game due to an upper-body injury.

--Field Level Media