When the Washington Capitals last played the Tampa Bay Lightning, it was billed as a key showdown against an up-and-comer in the Southeast Division. Washington passed that test, and then proceeded to get shut out by the Atlanta Thrashers later in the season.
Now, the Lightning are back in town, and they are still a threat. With 28 points, Tampa Bay is still just four points behind the Capitals in the Southeast Division. They're also fifth in the Eastern Conference and very much a threat in the Eastern Conference. Tonight, they come to the Verizon Center poised to top a Capitals team that has been struggling.
After starring in a 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday, Semyon Varlamov will get the start in net for the Capitals. Tampa Bay will counter with regular netminder Mike Smith, who is 8-3 with a 3.15 goals-against average this season.
The game will begin at 5 p.m. In a mild surprise, center Tomas Fleischmann has been scratched.